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This time of year there are two things conspiring against my fibromyalgia: the cold weather, and the busyness and extra work and socializing that come along with the holiday season. I’m trying to have a low-key Christmas this year because of my fibromyalgia and because I try not to be that materialistic–I mean, I’d be sad if I didn’t get a gift, but I don’t need a bunch–or that obsessed with having a prefect Christmas. Here’show I’m dealing with those challenges.

Right now (it’s 7 p.m. and the sun has gone down and it’s the middle of December) I’m just trying to stay warm. Cold temperatures contribute greatly to my pain–winter is always the worst time of year for my pain symptoms. Just lots of shooting slivers in my body this time of year. Right now I’m sitting in a living room full of burning candles and I have a space heater on. (Even when the big house heater is on, I have a space heater on next to me.) I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a sweater, warm pajama bottoms (I’m in for the night), long socks over short socks,and I have a fleece blanket over it all. I’ll probably take a hot shower before bed. Basically, I’m keeping myself warm and cozy.

I know that it’s not nearly as cold here as in other places in the U.S., so sometimes I feel like I’m bragging when I mention temperatures and the fact that so far this year it’s snowed once and it melted within a few hours, but even without ice and snow, it still got down to 19 Fahrenheit last week. It still will get down into the 30’s tonight. And when you only get that kind of cold for two or three months out of the year, it can feel as cold to you as zero degrees can when you live in a colder climate. The other day I was reading through a journal I kept when I was living in a thousand miles to the north, and in one December entry I reported that it was three below zero. I think I might come close to dying if it ever got that cold here. I just try to stay inside on the really cold mornings and evenings. Inside and out of the wind and in front of the space heater and under the blanket. So far the pain hasn’t been that bad.

Now as far as my low-key Christmas celebrations:

First of all, I have low-key decorations. I have a small tree that came pre-lit, so I just have to unfold the branches and put on a handful of ornaments. I put a “Feliz Navidad” sign in the window and twine some white lights around our porch railing and hang a wreath on the door and spread a few candles around the living room. All stuff that only takes maybe thirty minutes to do, so the house still looks pretty and festive, and I didn’t cause some serious pain for myself in doing it.

The gift-giving is low-key, too. Many of the adults in my family don’t even want gifts, so I mainly end up buying for the kids in the family. That certainly cuts down on the stress of having to go shopping and fighting the crowds. And when I do go shopping I don’t go to the stores on the big days–I go at ten o’clock on the morning on a weekday so there won’t be so many people to maneuver around or  long lines to stand in.

I’m also only making two different holiday treats that are both very easy to make: peppermint bark and roasted pecans. They are both recipes that take maybe twenty minutes to make and I’m making two or three batches of each. I’m going to buy anything else I need for Christmas party food.

Now the next week will be a challenge with lots of parties to get to and a drop in temperatures expected, but right now I think I’m doing fine in heading off a flare-up of my symptoms. Okay, my knees kinda hurt, but I’m not that cold and I’m not feeling stressed, so I’d say I’m coming out ahead.