Holly Jolly Pain-Free Holidays

holly jolly"Happy holiday, happy holiday!

While the merry bells keep ringing

May your ev'ry wish come true."


These lyrics from the classic film "Holiday Inn" are everybody’s ideal for the holiday season—but for many people, the celebrations at the end of the year combine into a major stressor, the trigger for a flare-up.


Here we offer you some tips from people with FM or a chronic pain condition, suggesting ways you can survive the holidays happily—and healthily.

  • Take it easy--make it simple.  Chris Chaney discovered the pleasure of a simple holiday that focused on the family instead of the trimmings.  The Chaneys decided on an artificial Christmas tree and decorated it leisurely over the course of a week.  And they turned a major holiday meal into a soup-and-buffet, with each participating family contributing a pot of soup and a different kind of bread. 
  • Use pockets of time to get smaller tasks done. For instance, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, you can fill out your holiday cards.
  • Most catalogues will also mail gifts directly to the recipient, so you won’t even have to wrap them.
  • Just say no! Jane Ellen Hills knows how important it is to prioritize her "to do" list—and that includes giving herself the power to cross off the less important items at the bottom of the list. "Know what you can do and how much you can do—then stop," she says.
  • One Vermont resident suggests soaking in a hot bath immediately before leaving home, in order to prevent flares caused by the cold weather. "If I do this I can get through a holiday event without severe pain," she says. "Ask for a gift certificate to a pool with a hot spa for a holiday gift. Use it!"
  • Try not to cluster your shopping trips. Dolores Serri starts her Christmas shopping in August, which prevents her from getting exhausted and is easier on her budget because her purchases are spread out. "As I see things I like, I buy them and keep them in a large closet," she says. "By Thanksgiving I am usually done with all of the holiday shopping." This tradition also allows her to save her energy for big holiday events like baking cookies with her grandchildren, visiting Radio City Music Hall for its Christmas extravaganza, and attending holiday parties.
  • Consider shopping alternatives. If visiting the bustling stores seems like too big an undertaking, there are many online and print catalogues that allow you to shop at your leisure from the comfort of your home. Or give easy-to-make gifts, like cookie mixes in a jar. Pour the dry ingredients into a jar, attach a copy of the recipe, and you’re done! One person offers this cookie recipe:


  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart jar in the order given. Press each layer firmly in place before adding the next layer.
  2. Include a card with the following instructions: Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the jar. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
    3. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Transfer from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Remember that there is no "right" holiday. Make your holiday one that works for you. "We are inundated by movies, TV, magazines, etc. portraying the ‘perfect’ holiday," says Chris Chaney. "Never mind which holiday, there are images for them all. The wonderful truth is that we have within us the power to create our own special holiday, be it simple or elaborate. What makes it special is how we choose to spend our time and effort with others."


Don’t forget that the end of the year is a time to celebrate! Make sure you devote some time to yourself and do things that you like to do.



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