A Snarky Guide to Surviving the Holidays

The holidays are upon us. Filled with long shopping sprees, holiday parties, religious festivities, travel, the works. Basically, it’s a Nightmare Before and After Christmas for anyone with chronic conditions. So here is a snarky guide to surviving the holiday season. (Warning: any resulting aggravation of medical conditions, unemployment, and familial estrangement are not the fault of the author. Chronic conditions may range from anxiety to Zanaflex reaction, not excluding being chronically enrolled in school or parental status.)

  • For every piece of unsolicited medical advice you receive at the family Christmas party, take a shot of your favorite beverage. Note: may need to join AA before attempting.
  • Gather fellow friends with families. Make a bingo card out of the most commonly asked questions you and your friends with children are asked. The first to get Bingo gets their car detailed by the others.
  • Bring along a marker and a stack of gift tags. Each time you are asked why you aren’t over your long-standing chronic illness, replace a tag on one of the presents under the tree with a different name.
  • For every time you are asked what you will do with your degree, eat one of those little holiday chocolates. No response can possibly be expected while gagging on cheap holiday candy.
  • Use your fellow traveler’s self-preservation instincts to help get luggage into overhead bins. Say “oh, you might want to move a bit, I don’t want to drop this on your head” and see if that person doesn’t – for lack of anywhere safe to move – jump up and help you load your luggage. If not, say “my bad, no room here” and go find a spot over someone with better survival skills.
  • For every piece of unsolicited baby care advice you receive, swipe a cheese ball. When the party runs out of cheese balls, claim a diaper disaster and flee.
  • Every time you’re asked if you really need (X medical treatment that qualified medical professionals and yourself have determined you totally need) swipe a nut from a bowl. The total number of nuts you have at the end of the event correlates nicely to the total number of nuts at the party.
  • Get a group of fellow graduate students together. For every time you’re asked when you’re going to be done with your degree, gain a point. The loser has to proofread the winner’s bibliography.
  • When receiving a gift that you’re allergic to, just smile and make a special little note to send that person a thank-you card coated with very loosely glued glitter.
  • Every time someone comments on how much stuff you carry now that you’re a mom and how strong your arms must be, smile and hand them something heavy to hold “just while I go do this.” Small children, a stroller, and the complete Oxford English Dictionary should be about right. Come back in a half-hour, when their arms are nice and jelly-like, to retrieve it.
  • It’s not crazy to consider renting a small semi-truck to transport your PT equipment, medical gear, hot pads, ice packs, special furniture, medicines, and clothes for a four day vacation. 
  • If you are working on a research project over break, be sure to set a page goal for each day. Burn at least that many pages of hideous reports, student papers, bad research, or committee minutes each day to get that warm holiday glow.
  • When strong-armed into doing a lengthy craft project , carefully place plastic wrap under the lids of all the glues and glitters. Claim they’re dried out or empty, then go take a nap instead.



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