I’d imagine if anyone who knows me were to describe me in one sentence, it would go something like this: “Oh, Alyssa? She’s that writer girl who runs a nonprofit organization for her disease, drinks way too much coffee for her own good, and has an unhealthy obsession with Christmas.”
Upon meeting me, those little nuggets of information are probably the first things you’ll learn, and they perfectly capture how I spend my days. In fact, that’s how the majority of this day has gone so far. I woke up, edited some writing, ran errands for Thanksgiving next week, and checked items off the nonprofit’s to-do list. Now, here I am on my iPhone after guzzling down a peppermint mocha latte from Starbucks (apparently, last week’s fiasco wasn’t enough to deter me), writing this column and listening to Christmas music.
For as long as I can remember, there has been something special about the holidays. As a child, I anticipated Christmas morning and all the presents under the tree. I acted my very best to get on Santa’s nice list. I anxiously awaited vacation from school but looked forward to the parties teachers threw in the classroom. Everything around me seemed so magical.
As an adult, I still get the same magical feeling I had as a child but also have other reasons for channeling that sense of magic. Gathering around the Thanksgiving table with loved ones, feeling that spark amid the hustle and bustle of everything around me, listening to Christmas classics, and watching claymations while eating Christmas cookies and putting up the tree. I could ramble on about the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone who knows me knows I like to bring my holiday game to the next level.
The holidays and I have a long track record of good tidings and merriment, so it’s only fair that I give this time of year the love and recognition it deserves. But while you can always count on me to spread Christmas cheer for all to hear, there’s a little voice in the back of my mind, a voice of reason if you will, reminding me of the reality that is the holiday season.
That reality is more commonly known to my family as the beginning of cold and flu season. It’s the beginning of frigid temperatures and people gathering in tightly closed quarters for holiday parties, creating a breeding ground for germs to make their grand entrance into people’s bodies. It’s also the beginning of my unwanted, but necessary, hibernation phase.
A sense of dread accompanies the holiday joy. While obsessing over Christmas trinkets at Target, I’m also intently listening for sniffles and coughs around me. I’m going to stores at random hours and making brief appearances at parties in an attempt to lessen my germ exposure. I’m backing out of prior commitments upon learning that someone at the event has a common cold. I’m texting family members for brief health updates, wondering if I’m going to have to seclude myself from the Thanksgiving table, away from illnesses. I’m worried about my parents needing to be more conscientious of what they’re exposing themselves to so they can avoid carrying germs to me. It’s a tricky game to play during this time of year, and the hardest reality to grasp is that it’s just the beginning of a few long and lonely months ahead.
But just as any game goes, you learn to strategize. You learn to play the field and gauge your opponents’ (germs) next move. Despite the challenge of the feat that lies before you, you learn to find love and contentment in being able to experience the moment in the first place.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.