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Celebrating Halloween the Spoonie Way

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Holidays can be extra hard for those of us with chronic illnesses. Expectations can hit head-on with reality and cause negative memories for the next year to come. We may not be able to attend all events we want to, eat foods that are traditional, or socialize without anxiety. This creates even more room for feelings of isolation and estrangement from society, peers and family. By using the spoon theory, we spoonies can plan ahead of time on how to balance activity and rest. Being able to choose what we do is a liberty not all spoonies have, so preparing for a holiday will allow some ease and excitement.

Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday, and Lyme disease won’t stop me from celebrating this year. I may not be going out to a huge dress-up party, drinking all night and dancing because that is no longer a part of my reality. My priorities have changed now, and I’m looking forward to different, new traditions. And of course, staying in the spooky spirit!

Decorating is my personal favorite. Pinterest is full of do-it-yourself crafts, and some are quite minimal and use a few materials. I cut spider webs out of black trash bags to hang in my window. Collecting leaves from a special walk and then pasting them to small mason jars make beautiful candle holders. Spray painting mason jar lids orange and tying them together in a circle creates a pumpkin, and a few cinnamon sticks in the middle smell delicious. Pumpkins and gourds can be painted, drawn on, carved into, and are great for stickers. Let your creativity guide you! Your home will feel cozier and you will have made something with your own two hands. Save these special decorations for next year, as a reminder how far you have come.

Candy is quite the bummer for people with chronic illness because sugar may not be allowed in our diets, and could cause a flare-up of symptoms. But candy is delicious and we should not go without. Using natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup in baking can open a lot of doors dessert-wise. Again, I find a lot of paleo-inspired dessert recipes on Pinterest. I bought “Pumpkin Pie Spice” from a grocery store, which is just a mix of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. I put some in my hot ginger tea now, with a spoonful of honey. Tastes incredible and really helps my digestion. It’s fun to experiment in the kitchen and enjoy the process at a pace that’s comfortable for you.

Halloween movies are classic! And we spoonies are no stranger to the couch. So invite your friends over, or that special someone to hold tight, and get your fright on! You can stream these movies on Netflix now: “Sleepy Hollow,” “The Addams Family,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Corpse Bride,” “Practical Magic,” “American Horror Story,” “The Amityville Horror,” and an original series, “Stranger Things,” which will spook you to the core!

And on Halloween, my big plans are to wear a freaky mask, scare youths, and pass out candy like a good adult neighbor should. I can’t wait to watch all the families enjoy their holiday and see the kids in their the adorable and interesting costumes. I imagine the smoky scent of nearby fire pits. The coolness sweeping in after 6 p.m., as the sun goes down. I’ll leave my lights on for the latecomers. On Halloween, magic is in the air. I am limited in my abilities but unlimited in my choice to enjoy what I can of my favorite holiday.

Originally published: October 19, 2016
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