holiday cheer, family pressure

Holiday Cheer: 5 Tips To Ease Family Pressure During Your Kid’s Cancer Diagnosis

Do you remember in 2009 when there was a huge blizzard right around Christmas time? Roads and airlines were shut down. People were forced to cancel holiday plans and stay home.

When I talk to people about that Christmas, I’m amazed at how many of them say it was the best Christmas they’ve had in years. Instead of running themselves into exhaustion, they stayed home and enjoyed their immediate family.

The holidays during cancer treatment remind me of that blizzard. Often, treatment requires that we cancel or postpone plans, and at first glance, it can feel like such a disappointment.

However, you might be surprised at what a blessing holidays at home can be.

Still, as the holidays approach, you are going to find yourself dealing with some pressure from family about whether you will attend traditional events.

So, how do you deal with this? Here are 5 tips to ease family pressure during your child’s cancer diagnosis and still maintain some holiday cheer.

1. Trust Your Gut.

Do not let anyone talk you into something that you know in your gut is not in the best interests of your child.

holiday cheer, family pressure

While others may think they know best—or even think you are overreacting—the truth is, they don’t know. You do—even if it feels like you don’t, sometimes.

2. Consider It In Hindsight.

When trying to make your decision, consider looking at the situation as though it has already passed. This was a trick that helped me see things more clearly when we made hard decisions during treatment.

For example, I would imagine that the upcoming Christmas had already come and gone, and I was looking back at it. I would think about what I treasured most, and if I had any regrets.

Of course, I couldn’t predict the future. But it gave me a little distance from the situation, so that I could think about it more clearly. Sometimes, this was just the perspective I needed.

3. Seek Middle Ground.

Find a happy middle. Maybe you usually have a two-day celebration, staying overnight at a family member’s house.

This year, consider making it just a day or even a few hours. That way, you don’t completely miss out on the celebration, but you are also keeping your child’s needs in mind.

4. Find Ways To Keep Traditions.

Make a big deal about things at home. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean the holidays have to be a letdown. (Remember the ’09 Christmas blizzard?)

Cook your family’s traditional holiday foods. Carry out family traditions like you normally would.

If you usually open presents at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve, exchange presents ahead of time, so you can still open those presents that night.

holiday cheer, family pressure

We have even propped the iPad up at the dinner table, so that it felt like absent family was eating the meal with us. Sometimes, you just have to get creative.

5. Go Easy On Yourself.

Don’t second-guess yourself. Know that you made the best decision you could with the information you had at the time.

In the end, maybe it was not the right decision. However, God knows you would never do anything to purposefully harm your child. You did the best you could. So, try to give yourself some grace.

The holidays look different when they are impacted by childhood cancer, but different isn’t always bad. This might be the year when your family connects more than you ever have before.

Jenni DeWitt
I’ve been a cancer mom since February of 2012 when my 2-year-old son, Cooper, was diagnosed with leukemia. I'm excited to connect with you here at Lionfighters and on

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