by Linda W. Arms, dated December 17, 2013
Sometimes it might be good to get back to the very basics and have a very simple holiday season, especially after a brain injury. So many of us are challenged by all the events around the holidays, doing what everyone’s expected of us in years past. Many of us have to endure the big family get-togethers, or busy holiday environments. It is challenging because our brains are overwhelmed.
Seven years ago, in 2006, I could not face Christmas at home as I did in my past. In January of that year I had the accident that caused my TBI. By December of that year, I had not made much progress in my recovery. I could not face the Christmas decorations and products that I saw in stores already in October. I would get tears in my eyes. The difficulties I had just in being in a store became even worse because of the emotions that my brain was having to deal with. I was OVERWHELMED by the thought of putting up a tree, buying presents and doing any of the things I normally did in the past, including always having a big holiday get together at my home. I just couldn’t face it. It just was not possible to be who I was before. So I, my husband and daughter, ran away.
We went to a place I used to live growing up and that I have many fond memories of. We went to Germany where Christmas is still celebrated in a much quieter style. We stayed in a small village. We bought a tiny tree about 12 inches tall with a few decorations already on it. We enjoyed some very low-key events in this village that did not allow cars on many of its streets. I could face Christmas here. I did not have to try to be the person of my adult past. I took many naps. I could not count the money to pay for things. I could not sort out many things I used to know about being there. I leaned on my family. Even with all these things in my way, it is still a wonderful memory that I have of this special time when we ran away from Christmas.
Here is a picture of our Christmas decorations, a tiny tree, 2 tiny reindeer, 2 candles and not much else. We just enjoyed the peace and tranquility of where we were. We enjoyed just our little immediate family being together.
Today, seven years later, Christmas is still much, much simpler compared to “before the accident” but I don’t feel I have to run away. I am still getting better in small doses. I hope all of you are finding yourself better than last year. Have a Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!