To Celebrate the Holiday Season, I’m Viewing It Through a Child’s Eyes

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by Jen Cueva |

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Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” ― Chris Van Allsburg, “The Polar Express

When I was young, my parents worked diligently to create a sense of wonder during the holidays. My sisters and I participated in church, school plays, and musicals. We helped decorate our home with trees and stockings, and at times, attempted to make homemade ornaments. But if you know me, you know my crafty side is practically nonexistent. I’ll stick with cooking.

Although the last few years have been overwhelming and scary, we can still enjoy the miracles of the Christmas season. I realize that we’re not out of the woods yet with the pandemic, but thanks to the vaccine, many are now able to see family. Sharing good times, in-person conversations, and hugs with loved ones is one of my greatest wishes. Does it top your wish list, too?

The holidays can be difficult, as many experience pain, grief, loss, and pleasure simultaneously. Some of us may long for those we have lost or are unable to see.

This time of year can be especially complex when living with pulmonary hypertension (PH). Too often, those of us with the condition allow our feelings surrounding PH to take up too much space in our hearts. We may experience a sense of loss or disappointment regarding things we can no longer do.

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However, if we stop and view the miracles of Christmas through a child’s eyes, we may recognize the kindness of others and experience a nostalgia that warms our soul. I have found myself watching little ones taking in the holiday scenery around our neighborhood. Their faces gleam with light, excitement, and suspense. It makes me smile thinking about the joy in their hearts.

Because this is the season of giving, I try to help children in need so that they, too, can see the miracles of Christmas. At times, I may send cards and small gifts to children with PH who are hospitalized during the holidays. Check out this column by my close friend Colleen for ways to make the hospital a happier place for these kids.

Other times, I find a local group to help. This year, I’m donating gifts to San Diego Foster Angels, a nonprofit that supports at-risk children. These kids and teens often go without, and the smallest gift can provide a bit of holiday magic. The organization shares the children’s wish lists on its website, making it easy to purchase gifts that are shipped directly to them.

Giving not only feels good, but can improve mental and physical health, enabling us to get into the holiday spirit.

It can also be beneficial to learn to accept help and be OK with not doing it all. Those of us with PH can quickly become exhausted during this busy season, so it’s nice to have a few loved ones we can call on. (I think of them as elves.) Recently, my family was planning to put up our Christmas tree and decorations. However, I wasn’t feeling my best, so my husband, Manny, helped me out by doing most of it.

holidays with PH | Pulmonary Hypertension News | A Christmas tree decorated with lights and an angel on top glows at night in the Cueva home.

The Cueva family Christmas tree. (Photo by Jen Cueva)

Setting boundaries and expectations can additionally benefit those of us with PH. Like a child, we can learn to go with the flow and live in the moment during this busy season. We plan and stress enough throughout the year; let’s permit ourselves to do this as our bodies allow.

Despite the various challenges of PH symptoms, pain, and side effects, we can find joy by viewing the holidays through a child’s eyes. Pay attention to those who show kindness, and show kindness to others. Spread love, joy, and the light of the season.

From my home to yours, stay safe as you celebrate in whatever way works best for you.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension 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 other 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 Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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