Lessons from Christmas Specials

One of my favorite holiday activities every year is to watch the Christmas specials like: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “”A Christmas Carol.  Sure, I’ve seen them a million times. But I never get tired of the heart-warming messages and the life lessons.

When my joints feel their worst during the cold, dark days of winter a little holiday cheer lifts my spirits and gives me some good reminders:

  • “Put one foot in front of the other”—Two years ago when I was recovering from knee surgery and re-learning how to walk for the fourth time, I watched the Winter Warlock thaw and take his first tentative steps while Kris Kringle sung encouragement in “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” The message was that taking one step at a time towards a goal is how you eventually reach it. It may be hard. It may even seem impossible. But one step, one day at a time is how I recovered and how I continue to fight rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Keep bouncing—If there’s anything we learn from Rudolph, it’s that Bumbles bounce. He may get knocked around, bullied by a dentist and pushed off a cliff, but that Bumble recovers! He bounces back like nobody’s business! RA can get me down, knock me flat, but I will bounce and not be beat by it.
  • The little things are the important things—The Grinch may steal all the gifts, toys and treats but the Who’s remember what’s truly important: each other. They don’t need expensive things, they just need the love and support of friends, family and community. As much as I strive in life, it’s not the material world that matters but the support, laughter and experiences I share with my loved ones. In a similar vein, I frequently feel my health is not ideal or struggle with my RA symptoms. Even on bad RA days I can cherish my friends and family as the great gifts they are.
  • “It’s not such a bad little tree after all”—Charlie Brown finds a little, threadbare Christmas tree that he loves and everyone else ridicules. But he sees something special in that underdog of a tree. With a little care and attention the beauty of this tree is a revealed to the delight of all the children. When I’m feeling rough and inadequate, I can be reminded that my strength and persistence in the face of RA is part of my beauty that cannot be measured on face-value.
  • Be grateful and generous—My ultimate favorite is “A Christmas Carol” and the reformation of Ebenezer Scrooge. For me, the message is about being grateful for what we have and being generous of ourselves. Even though I have my own life struggles, I am very fortunate. And I can give to others in need with my time, donating food or clothes, and other acts of kindness. I personally believe that everyone can be generous in some way, even just kind and thoughtful words can make a difference for someone.

Every year I use these Christmas specials to get in the holiday spirit and to remind myself of some of their best lessons. What other ways to you celebrate, find joy or comfort at this time of year?

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