Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

What Not To Get People With RA For The Holidays

It’s that time of year, the Holiday season. And whatever you celebrate, most likely it involves some sort of gift-giving ritual. Those of you who know someone with RA or someone who is chronically ill might be wondering what to get your friend, loved one, or significant other. Well, the answer is easy – I have no idea. Yup. Totally clueless and couldn’t even begin to guess. Why? Well, it’s simple. Just because two people have autoimmune arthritis, it doesn’t mean they like the same things!

Finding gifts for people with rheumatoid arthritis

Admit it, you thought this was going to be another one of those, “10 things to get someone with RA for the holidays” BuzzFeed-esque, tripe-filled, clickbait time-wasters. Well, shame on you! Shame! Shame! Shame! (I’m ringing a bell, you just can’t hear it.) The truth is, autoimmune illness is such an individual disease that even those who suffer from similar symptoms don’t experience things exactly the same, and they almost certainly don’t enjoy the same remedies.

What does that mean? It means you’re out of luck, I can’t tell you what to get. Sorry, I refuse to make one of those kitschy list posts of “things you should do if.” What we are going to do though, is something tooooootally different. I’m going to tell you a list of things that a person with RA in your life doesn’t need. See, I didn’t do it. What? It’s totally different. Shut up.

3 gifts to never give a person with rheumatoid arthritis

Why a list of things not to get, you ask, probably? It just seems like more and more in TV and movies and insensitive commercials that propagate the stereotype that kids don’t get RA, autoimmune arthritis is getting painted with that stereotypical brush often lately, and it’s time to reel it in. So, in order to educate, entertain, and assist, here is a totally not BuzzFeed-worthy list of things you should stay away from for those with RA.

1. Anything that supposed to “cure” rheumatoid arthritis

First item: Anything you’ve seen on TV, read about online, or heard about from your sister’s cousin’s ex-husband’s Yoga instructor’s water delivery guy, that is supposed to help with, relieve, cure, or otherwise affect arthritis.

It consistently amazes me how many people give gifts like this. Would you think of giving someone with MS some supplement pills you read about on the Internet? Would you give someone with skin cancer a tub of SPF 50? Would you give someone with no arms a pair of gloves? (Well, I might, but I have a real sick sense of humor, and for the purposes of this article the answer is HELL no!) Of course you wouldn’t! You’d know it wasn’t appropriate to give anything that calls attention to or sticks your nose into their illness. So why, oh why, do people think it’s OK to do this when you have arthritis? It’s not clever, it’s not fun, and it’s not thoughtful, so please, just get a gift card to Starbucks like a normal person.

2. Clothes

Next up – and this one’s real simple – clothes! People, people, people! You have to remember that just because we make living with RA look good, it doesn’t mean that the actual parts underneath are all in the right spots and are the right shape! I have to get my clothes specifically tailored to fit my silly ruined body, and that jeans jacket you just got me with the pleather cuffs and corduroy space cowboy collars just isn’t going fit right.

I mean, let’s forget the fact that it’s a fashionista crime against humanity for a second and think what it might make someone with RA feel like when you inevitably say “Try it onnnnnn! Let me seeeee!!” Not wanting to disappoint, we twist and turn like an idiot zipped up in a sleeping bag and end up not being able to get our prosthetic shoulder to cooperate without assistance.

Now, does that sound like the perfect holiday scene? Something that someone would want to do with an audience? The answer is no, this isn’t a jolly Christmas comedy. Unless someone specifically asks you for something to wear, keep the clothes where they belong – on models who are digitally altered to look like living barbie dolls and Greek statues. Pfft.

3. Books and movies about autoimmune illness

Next up on the hit list – books and movies about autoimmune illness. Let me pose a hypothetical. Let’s say you were really bad with money and you lost your savings and then had to rebuild it from scratch. Then imagine it happened to you every six months. Now, would you: A. Want to read about someone who doesn’t do that anymore, B. Watch a movie about spending money, reminding you how much you lost and how bad at spending you are, C. Have someone who doesn’t know you at all tell you all you need a positive mental attitude to overcome your spending issues, or D. Vomit with rage at the thought of any of the other options.

I think we know which one is the correct answer. Here’s a hint: grab the puke bucket and spew shovel, you got some scoopin’ to do. The last thing someone with an illness wants to do is read an exaggerated reminder of how well they aren’t doing, and how the power of positive mental thinking helped someone else, somewhere, deal.

We don’t want to be reminded that we are chronically ill

So, here we are, and you can see, I think, some of the not gift ideas for the holiday season, or really any time. In retrospect it seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t, common that is. Just keep in mind that no one with an illness wants to be reminded they have an illness. They’d rather be reminded they can get a free Frappuccino with their holiday gift card. Talk soon.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hopeless, just hopeless. I cannot read one of your articles without spewing coffee from my nose. Thanks DPM! Now I’ve reinforced your need for a Starbucks card though I personally prefer a sleeve of coffee from Nespresso. Okay, so Christmas is passed but something to remember for next year.

    Seriously, I love your non-list. It’s so spot on. It still makes me angry that people think it’s okay to treat RA people this way. My RA is none of your business especially if you’re one of the people in my universe who doubts there’s really anything wrong with me. That is the heart of the problem. These people don’t get it. They don’t understand, they often don’t care and never really see us for who we are.

    So you know what? Don’t get me anything then you clueless people. I don’t need more nonsense gifts cluttering up my already cluttered home. The Goodwill knows me by sight now in fact I even think they know the model of my car and license plate I’ve given them so much stuff over the years.

    So thanks Dan for always thinking of the things few people do and writing about them. You truly have a knack for making others laugh while also bringing up important subjects that are often invisible to the eye, however, never invisible to the heart. Guess that means you have a great heart, funny too. Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020. You yourself are a gift to all of us.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @cynthiav You always make me feel like people are actually laughing at my nonsense in stead of just going “pfft, what is this nonsense?” So that’s the best holiday gift anyone could give me ever! Thanks for reading, always. More to come in 2020! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Who are these people going, “pffffttt…” dpm? They’d better watch out, I swing a mean cane.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Wait, I love books that tell me if only i will stand on my head in the corner for 17 hours each day I will be cured. I mean of course you will die of swollen brain, but no more RA!!! I mean like ever.

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @lawrphil You get swollen brain too? Wow! What a coincidence. That crazy book duped us both! Hope you have a great new year! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 month ago

    The only safe clothing to give are scarves (in my book, at least). Even hats are not necessarily going to feel good!

    I just told people let me choose so that we know for sure I can wear, use and/or tolerate the present!

    Great article, it provided the laugh I sorely needed this holiday! ~Monica

    (PS. I almost wrote ( team)…I think you know that, lol!)

  • Daniel Malito moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @mysengupta Yes, I have to stop myself from writing the whole “Team Member” etc etc. LOL I have no idea if anyone will take these under advisement in time, but at least it’ll give us a chuckle! Thanks, Monica! Keep on keepin’ on DPM

  • Poll