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Why You Should Celebrate

Posted on Dec 17, 2012

Having a sick child in your life can make it hard to find reasons to celebrate this time of year. Here's a reminder why celebrating is so important.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a series of blogs about how to help parents of sick kids cope during the holidays. This was one of them, scheduled to be posted this week. In light of the killings that occurred in Newtown, I debated publishing it, but decided to after reading an article in the New York Times that quoted a father of one of the slain children. He spoke about his grief, but reflected on the idea that we cannot let this horrible event define who we are and take over our lives. When you read my blog, which follows this paragraph exactly as I wrote it, you will read a line in the second paragraph, in which I state exactly the same sentiment. Twelve years have passed since Lainie died, and knowing full well how this father, and all the parents whose children perished feel, affected me profoundly. I pray the bereaved parents take this man’s advice, as they begin their journey through grief to recovery, and hopefully, to celebration. May their memories be eternal in Heaven. God bless us all, as we continue to celebrate the awesome gift of life.

Celebrating, or feeling happy about anything, is so hard when your kid is sick. It’s just about the hardest thing I ever did as a dad. The holidays are a celebratory time, so of course, when you don’t feel like it, you just feel guilty. I did. And it ended up making everyone else feel guilty too. So, I had to snap out of it. Pick myself up by my bootstraps, and do the dad thing. For me, it was getting up the Christmas tree, putting up the lights outside; Mom did the shopping because she is just the best shopper on the planet and I had no desire to do that anyway. It’s not that I hate shopping; I just can’t make a decision when it comes to gift buying. I want it to be the perfect gift and it never is, at least in my mind, so I just give up. I know my limitations.

Anyway, here’s why you have to celebrate. You can’t let disease or hard times take away your joy. You can’t let it define who you are just because you have troubles or hardships. And finally, you have to be happy. If you’re not, your kids will know and then they won’t be happy. That’s something to feel guilty about, and I didn’t want that. Not ever! So, I put the tree and the lights up, cranked up the Christmas music, and watched my daughters' faces light up, with the glow of the holiday celebration shining from their faces.

I can’t celebrate the holidays, at least physically, with Lainie anymore. But I do in my heart and mind, and that wouldn’t be possible if I had not celebrated everyday of her being here, whether it was July or December, or any other holiday. So, Celebrate! And make the memories you will cherish for a lifetime. You’ll be glad you did!

Stathi Afendoulis

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