How Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Influences Our Christmas Traditions

This parent of three kids with Duchenne muscular dystrophy shares holiday thoughts

Betty Vertin avatar

by Betty Vertin |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner for Betty Vertin's

Like many, we have a tradition of buying a real Christmas tree every year during the weekend after Thanksgiving. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until we have visited our local tree farm to pick out the perfect one.

I love everything about that day — the damp pine smell in the barn stocked with homemade wreaths, how we pack the van with our new tree, and more.

After we get the tree loaded into our van, we go to the store so that each of our children can pick out a new ornament. This is a tradition we’ve adopted from my husband Jason’s family. When the kids are all grown, I will collect the ornaments and give them all back so that they can use them to decorate trees in their own homes. The decorations my husband has collected from his childhood years were all handmade gifts.

Recommended Reading
An illustration of a mouse in a lab.

Blocking TRPC6 Calcium Channel May Help to Treat Duchenne MD

An artificial tree?

This year, with inflation affecting everything, my husband suggested that we spend the same amount of money to buy an artificial tree that we could at least reuse. We were shopping together when he proposed the idea, and he almost had me convinced. But we had to run it by the kids first, and their reactions were just as I had suspected they would be: “No! Why would you do that?!”

I was, of course, in favor of getting a real tree, although I didn’t immediately know why. Upon reflection, I realized that the ugly truth to my Christmas tree-loving heart is that as the mother of three sons with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), there is always a fear in the back of my mind during birthdays and holidays that it could be the last that we’re all together as a family. So I want a freshly cut tree from the perfect, little, Christmas tree farm every year for as long as we are a whole family.

This year, I feel incredibly anxious. The sons of several friends in the DMD community have been very sick, and one passed away. It has been hard to follow along with them on social media. Yet, a massive part of me wants to be there and support them.

The other part of me wants to avoid updates. It is too hard to follow along. What they are experiencing is my worst nightmare. Reading about the trauma, emotions, grief, and fears stirs up the same emotions for me. The best I can do is remember them in my prayers.

If I flip that feeling, however, it makes me want to cram as much life as possible into each day, especially during the holiday.

I may be speaking only for myself here, but knowing what my sons face makes it easier to be illogical when it comes to buying a Christmas tree. It just feels better, and I pray that it will give my sons a happier life.

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.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.