It’s Time to Spread Some Holiday Cheer

It’s Time to Spread Some Holiday Cheer
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Christmas is upon us, and for many, it might not even feel like the holiday season at all.

We’ve been forced to stay away from family, our finances are tight, and uncertainty lingers about how 2021 will unfold. For me, being cooped up in my apartment has hampered my productivity and drained my motivation. I’m just thankful I can occasionally go outdoors to enjoy the natural beauty around me.  

We can look around and find an abundance of things to be upset about. But my hope is that despite all of the challenges we face, especially those caused every day by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, we still exude the cheer that is common at this time of year.

Instead of focusing on presents, let’s focus on each other’s presence. Instead of spending time decorating, let’s spend time trying to make someone smile. Instead of filling ourselves with ham, let’s fill up someone’s soul.

I want Santa to bring me all of the next-generation video game consoles, along with extra controllers. Just imagining this idea coming to fruition makes me happy. But having all the gaming power in the world won’t do anything to make me exude cheerfulness. Helping others is where the real spirit of Christmas lives. 

You’d be surprised how simple helping others is. As someone with a muscle-wasting disease, I can’t exactly jump up and move furniture, cook a meal, or help an older person across the street. What I can do is make someone smile, tell my mother I love her, and call a friend I haven’t talked to in years. We can spread the cheer around, and we don’t need to be able-bodied to do it.

We can also spread cheer by changing the perspectives of people around us. What we do while in a wheelchair, for better or worse, is usually noticed more than what someone on two legs does. Obviously, it’s hard to smile at someone when you have a mask obstructing your face, but you can still say hello and act like you care about fellow human beings. 

If you do, the other person might go home thinking, “I saw this guy in a wheelchair, and even with his circumstances, he’s happy. This year hasn’t been great for me, but I am still physically able to do things. I still have the means to provide for my family. Look at what I have to be thankful for!”

While that internal monologue might be a bit dramatic, a little bit of cheer can go a long way. 

What I’m asking you to do is hard, trust me. I’ve wanted to yell at someone many times this year to take my frustrations out on them. But the hard things we do have the biggest impact. 

Let’s take to heart what this season means even though our circumstances might be the worst we’ve ever seen. In these next couple weeks, let’s be cheerful, no matter what. It’s a challenge I’m willing to take on.      

***

Note: Muscular Dystrophy News 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 another 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 Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

Hawken is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California and a young journalist with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He has previously worked for the Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, KTLA 5 News and at USC Annenberg Media. When not writing columns, he’s reporting on rare disease-related news for the publisher of this website, BioNews.
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Hawken is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California and a young journalist with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He has previously worked for the Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, KTLA 5 News and at USC Annenberg Media. When not writing columns, he’s reporting on rare disease-related news for the publisher of this website, BioNews.
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