How Big is Too Big? How Much is Too Much?

I used to celebrate Christmas in a big way with miles of garlands and icicle lights outlining our home that illuminated night into day and a tree in every room.  Those days are long gone because my body just can’t handle the abuse my neck, legs, feet, arms and back sustained. The repercussions from my body screamed long after the holiday was over. So now there are just four 4 trees.  But the large family tree was in a sorry state.  It no longer lit up like the Big Kahuna it was and Thad had to add strands of lights to the once pre-lit tree.  It was looking like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree with fronds losing needles like leaves on a blustery fall day.  I reminisced about the years it stood proud and bright and I knew it was time to to replace her.  I thought at the time, that I had some body parts I’d like to replace if were only as easy as replacing this tree.

So last year, at an after-Christmas sale, Thad was determined to relive his childhood memory by buying the largest tree he could. We had always been limited by low ceilings so now that we live in a house with 10 foot high ceilings, while most were dreaming of sugar plums, Thad was dreaming of a 9 ft tree.  There was no deterring him.  As I stared up at this beautiful, majestic, full bodied tree, I wondered out loud whether we should purchase something smaller.  With Thad’s neuropathy in his feet and my inner ear imbalance and fear of heights, this tree might be a foreshadowing of things to come.  He looked at me with a combination of the resolute resolve of a teenager and stubborn defiance or a three year old.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.  No, he was getting his pre-lit 9 footer.   I sighed and tried to think of the positive.

This tree comes in four sections so you can choose to make it a 9 Ft, 7 Ft, or 5 ft. tree.  I caved without much of a fight  thinking that when he and I decide it’s time to move into an assisted living the 5 ft. would be just the thing to go along with the “his” and “her” matching Lazy Boy auto lift recliners.

The day we decided to put up and decorate this new tree, Thad was like a child with a new toy.  Remember Ralphie in The Christmas Story when he finally gets his Genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air BB Gun?  Everyone kept telling him – “You’ll shoot your eye out!”  In this case I was thinking “You’ll break your legs!”

Putting this beautiful tree together requires a ladder as does decorating it.  The tree topper was quite the challenge and although it is a beautiful shiny star, I thought having an angel might have been a better choice because we needed an angel to guide us and safely get the topper on the tree.  I swear the air at that altitude was thinner.  And it required stronger core muscles than this 64 year old body has.  While “Neuropathy Thad” and “Fearfully Imbalanced Loretta” took turns going up and down the ladder I was pretty much done in when we finally got it completely dressed.  Staring up at this beautiful new tree as I soaked my feet in an Epson salt eucalyptus bath; I began thinking about how grateful I am that while I hurt, I can still do this.  But for how long?

Where does this Christmas find you?  Does it find you energized, excited like you were a child with expectations and anticipation of what was to come?

Or are you buried deep in providing care for a loved one and cannot begin to fathom celebrating the holidays, Christmas giving, and decorating.  Perhaps you yourself are sick, battling a disease that feels like the Grinch that stole Christmas.

The heart is willing, even craving, but the body isn’t.  You want to bake cookies, throw that gastronomic Christmas dinner but you don’t know that you have it in you.  Or maybe you know you don’t.

Friends, hit pause and ponder a moment with me.  Christmas isn’t about the wonderland decorations, the baking from scratch, home cooked meals, or the mega gifts under the tree; but of the memories you create and can still make by being present and being THE present in this holiday season.

When your abilities are changing, change your lifestyle to suit your abilities and think of what you can do, not what you cannot do.  Change yourself within by changing your attitude from consternation to contentment.  When you force yourself to do what you can no longer do without hurting yourself you are showing weakness.  But when you change your attitude to acceptance you are showing your strength in all circumstances.  I want to show my children and grandchildren that life in every season is about adapting to your circumstances and feeling at peace with simple acceptance and abundance.

So buy the cookies from your favorite bakery, order your Christmas dinner from the local grocery store or restaurant and spend the time sharing memories of the past and making memories for the future.

This year, while I am feeling fine, I realized that what I want most is to make those memories with Francesca & Rich and my grandsons, Aiden & Ryker.  It’s about celebrating Christ’s birth and what God did for us.  We don’t need fancy to celebrate Jesus.  We need faith to celebrate the reason for the season.  We need to give ourselves grace, to watch a few Hallmark Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate with the grand kids while playing a game, and laugh with friends.

I still have lapses when my heart starts to race and the need to make “To-Do” lists overtake me.  But I am working on it.  This year, I will not be baking an assortment of cookies.  Thad will make his biscotti because its therapy for him and with living with me, he needs the therapy.  Plus, they make a hit where ever they are shared.  I am still trying to decide whether to make any cookies myself.  But if I do, they will be simple without the long marathons of baking that once were a yearly part of my life.

There will come a day when Thad and I can no longer comfortably and safely climb the ladder to put the star at the top of the tree.  I pray that the good Lord gives us wisdom to know when that time is, accept our circumstances at the time and lower the tree to 7 feet or maybe even 5 feet.  May we remember the ultimate gift is not found under our Christmas trees but in Christ’s presence in our lives and hearts.

Wishing you a Simply Abundant and Merry Christmas.


Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to comment here or even re-blog – may these words take flight!

Want a great Christmas Gift?  There is still time to gift a thoughtful and helpful gift by purchasing a copy of my book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order go to my website at



Comments (2)

  1. WOW! So relate to this! YES! My Greg is so much like your Thad! Ha ha! Always picking the biggest, tallest tree….so tall ! Get home and have to cut it down so it does not poke through the ceiling! LOL! Yes….a difficult time, lost brother-in-law last week. Praying for Aunt in ICU and caregiving from afar. Love your insights into the attitudes of contentment and acceptance. Thank you for encouraging us to BE the PRESENT, to share HIS Mercy, Grace, Love, Joy & Peace, to enjoy HIS presence as we make precious memories with family and friends! Have a BLESSED and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    December 12, 2019 at 11:52 am
    1. Thank you, Mary Jo for reading my blog and seeing the message behind the humor. What a shame we spend so much of our youth doing, doing, doing and it is only when our bodies scream “Enough” do we finally get the message that its about time with God in His peace. Sorry to hear about your medical mayhem and will lift prayers for strength and peace of mind as you sort through the plethora of feelings from loss, and care giving. May the peace that passes all understanding fill your hearts and allow you to enjoy the reason for the season.

      December 12, 2019 at 12:41 pm

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