I have so many powerful and distinct memories of the Christmas season. Christmas time means a lot of things to me:
- The smell of the fresh pine tree we just brought home from the Christmas tree farm
- Fires in the fireplace and staying up late and putting just one more piece in the jigsaw puzzle
- Driving around town looking for all the best lights on houses
- My dad’s famous seven-layer dip and a bowl of pistachios
- Lying down by my mom and falling asleep in front of the lit Christmas tree
- Sneakily dropping off plates of treats to our neighbors and running away before they caught us
- Wearing new pajamas and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Holiday Inn”
- The orange at the bottom of my stocking
- The emphasis on the true meaning of Christmas
It’s all of these things and more that make this a special time, but December also marks the anniversary of when Kaitlyn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Two years ago, we brought Kaitlyn to the hospital, knowing that we would most likely be coming home with an insulin prescription and a binder full of instructions. It wasn’t the present we were hoping to give our little 3-year-old that year. I have to admit that I was pretty much a zombie that Christmas season. I went through the motions of shopping, decorating and party-going, but it was really hard to focus on anything other than getting through another day of seeing Kaitlyn cry through the pricks and pokes.
Since that Christmas, I decided to do everything possible to help Kaitlyn make special memories without having diabetes limit or define her experiences. Rather than do away with fun treats, we’ve found that a little bit of planning makes it possible for Kaitlyn to enjoy hot chocolate or candy canes with her siblings. Can you imagine this? “No, Kaitlyn, you can’t have any almond rocha — you have diabetes.” Her response would be “I hate Christmas!” Instead, I can plan her meals and insulin in such a way that there’s room for almond rocha!
Type 1 diabetes is definitely not something you can run away from or take a break from, but we can certainly not let it define us as we make many more wonderful holiday memories.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.