Why I Hate “Are You Ready for Christmas?” | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Why I Hate “Are You Ready for Christmas?”

Angel Christmas ornamentsWell, I don’t really hate it, but “Why I’m uncomfortable with the question ‘Are you ready for Christmas?’” is too long for a blog title.

The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas. Sometimes people say Jewish families are lucky to celebrate Hanukkah over eight days. Isn’t that better than a month of rushing around terminating with a one-day of celebration with extra bags to carry to the trash truck? Historically, Christmas is twelve days long, beginning on December 25th. So, no rush if you’re still not ready!

But that’s not the reason “Are you ready for Christmas?” bugs me.

When someone asks me that, I have no idea what to say. What do they mean, “ready”? Do they mean have you shopped, cleaned, and baked enough?

Once upon a time getting “ready” included decorating my house with fresh garland and wreaths, making gifts for all my friends, and sending hand-written Christmas cards. But, even back then I hated the question, because cookies and bows don’t make you “ready” for joy, love, or faith.

Afraid and unprepared: how they were “ready” for the first Christmas

Zacharias was the first the angel visited and “fear fell on him.” The angel who told him “Fear not” told the same message to Mary, and then to Joseph. Then, the shepherds were “terrified.”

I’m not sure there could be a clearer depiction of unprepared than Mary and Joseph’s arrival in Bethlehem, not even knowing where they would deliver the baby. The account is full of twists and turns of unexpected difficulty or danger.

“Ready”? Caught off guard is more like it. The innkeeper, the shepherds, the parents. Even the animals.

Scared and caught off guard: Check

I figured out a long time ago that there is no such thing as being perfectly “ready” to celebrate the holidays. The added restrictions of Rheumatoid disease ensure I don’t forget that lesson.

This disease like many others brings unexpected trouble. The medications can be terrifying, and the prospects of the disease itself are even more frightening. Symptoms. Side effects. Loss of function. No one is ready for these. And they are an unwelcome backdrop that can make getting “ready” for the holidays or anything else impossible.

Joy Christmas ornament

Next year when someone asks me, “Are you ready for Christmas?” Maybe I should say, “Unprepared and worried. Check. Looks like I’m ready.”

Obviously, God did not leave them at that point of fear. Christmas is the unfolding story of His gift to us.

But, like I always told my kids when they were little, “Ready or not, Christmas comes. God’s gift is not dependent on us. Thankfully.”

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Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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13 thoughts on “Why I Hate “Are You Ready for Christmas?”

  • December 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Beautiful. I love this.

  • December 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Kelly really enjoyed ur article. I have been listening to everybody to talk about the reason for the season. Christ,s birth. Not hearing it from anyone. Why? Have they lost faith
    ? Surrounded by pain have we gave up? No not me. I’m ready. Without faith what’s left? I’m ready! Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and Your Family

  • December 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    You are right on!! That is exactly how I feel about Christmas. Thank you so much for putting my feelings into writing.
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.
    Kristi Law

  • December 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I’m reading this while sitting in front of my superduper warm and toasty gas insert fireplace. And thinking “well, I wasn’t ready for Christmas this year — but by God I have a toasty warm gas insert fireplace and my stiff joints are feeling pretty good!” Best purchase we ever made.

  • December 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I couldnt have said it better Miss Kelly.

  • December 27, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Ready? As ready as I could be! Supplies for projects not completed will be stored for next year. Hope that Gingerbread House will make it to Christmas 2013! The cookies didn’t all get decorated but I think sugar sprinkles and snow men decorations will keep. The home made gifts that only made it half way to productions will have to wait too. Now I have to focus on returning the things that didn’t fit, or we received two of. Hope I can get that done in the 30 day time limit, otherwise, those things will be regifted or donated to churches for next Christmas. Letting go of the perfect Christmas is hard for this type A girl but I’m learning! Now if I can find enough energy to take the tree down and store the decorations before Valentines day, I’ll have it made! And if I don’t? Oh, well! Then my house will just be festive as long as those things are up! But now it’s time for a nap! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all you RA Warriors out there!

  • December 27, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Thank you Kelly, for a very moving article. And for great perspective.

    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

  • December 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. We had a Christmas this year that did NOT go as planned – a lot of my family members got hit with the flu bug, and I had a MAJOR flare-up with my RA and was miserable the entire time. But in the end, it is all about Him – and that is what we must focus on.

  • December 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I was “ready” in terms of presents, not in terms of food and definitely not ready to tackle two grown up kids and a fiancee we had never met in the house for over a week! My daughter only made it here for the day. Boxing Day was at my sisters house, more stress and people. Now I’m relaxing, ignoring the pain in my hands as I type and reminding myself to be grateful my kids wanted to be home with us. Next year I’ll let them help me instead of trying to be “normal” My mum used to tell me that God never gave you anything he didn’t think you could cope with, so I take comfort in that. Hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas.

  • December 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Beautifully said, and I feel the same way. It always bothers me that people “judge” me for not doing things the way they do them or on their timetable. For instance I didn’t get my tree up until a week before Christmas so I will leave it up until New Years instead of putting everything away the day after. I would never wish this disease on anyone but I do wish they could see it through my eyes.

    • December 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      My kids & I did it on the 23rd. It is a beautiful memory. I’m enjoying it with tears of joy in my eyes since my eldest left already today.
      The tree will stay up through the 12 days of Christmas; comes down on Jan 6th traditionally.

      NOTHING to judge you for! How can anyone say any one of us is “wrong” for how we celebrate something we love with people we love?

      I do agree Connie – I wish they could just see it once through our eyes – that would bring change faster.

  • December 23, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I can so relate to your wonderful story! I no longer cook the fudge and divinity, nor bake cookies, or pies. So thankful for store bought, even if it isn’t mine. I gave up earlier looking for that special tree, so will use our ceramic lighted one. The beloved tree ornaments will wait safely tucked away in the large totes. I somehow kept my cute singing toys packed in our spare closet, plus some other decorations that didn’t make it to the shed. I decorated, and using what I had it does look like Christmas. When I feel badly I stop and remember how blessed I am to have a roof over my head, food to eat and some family to be around. We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, so ready or not is the life of an RA-er, and I think I am beginning to almost accept that! Merry Christmas to you and your family!


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