I hope everyone is well and at peace, and if you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful day.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were both busy and fun for Larry and me. We visited with his mother and my mother, attended the candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve and enjoyed time together. It was a wonderful holiday.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder didn’t ruin the holiday, but I found it sneaking in a few times to remind me that it’s still there, Christmas or not.
I felt it Christmas morning, when Larry and I opened our gifts to each other.
We keep our wrapped gifts on the dining room table until Christmas morning because our cat Sam likes to chew on boxes, wrapping paper and ribbons. She can’t climb up on the table anymore, so it’s the safest place we can keep them.
Christmas morning we took the wrapped presents to the big tree and sat in front of it to open our gifts. We had Celtic Christmas music playing, and it was a peaceful and fun time as we discovered what we had picked out for each other.
We were prepared. We had a trash bag to put the used wrapping paper in, and a box to put the ribbons in.
But I still found myself anxious about leaving a piece of paper, a bit of tape or a sliver of ribbon on the carpet for the cats to eat.
So I grabbed the paper and tape from Larry’s hands as soon as he tore it from a package and stuffed it down in the trash bag. Then I scanned the carpet for any pieces I might have missed.
It was not a big deal, compared to some other compulsions I have and have had in the past, but it was enough to take my mind momentarily off the festivities.
The real anxiety-producing obsession came later, when we visited my mother and had dinner with her.
She lives in an assisted living home, and has a large bedroom and bath, plus a lovely living room and dining room that she shares with the other ladies that live there.
My brother and his wife were also visiting, so we had to get an extra chair out in mother’s room where we talked with each other after dinner. Mother had a folder chair stored behind her bathroom door, so I got that out to sit in.
When it came time for Larry and I to leave, I refolded the chair and put it back behind the door.
That’s when the self-questioning started.
What if I didn’t set it firmly enough against the wall? What if I didn’t balance it well enough? If it fell, it might cause my mother to fall.
I turned the chair both ways and leaned it against the wall. I couldn’t tell which way made the chair more balanced, so I asked Larry to look at it.
My mother heard me and said, “There’s a certain a way you put it so it won’t fall.”
I asked, “Which way?”
My mother just said, “There’s one way to put it so it won’t fall.”
I was really anxious then. She apparently didn’t know how it should be set up, just that it had to be a certain way.
Larry looked at it and moved it around a little. We did our best to set it right.
He told me later that he thought he understood what my mother meant and put the heaviest part of the chair against the wall.
But as we said our goodbyes and left, it stayed on my mind. What if the chair fell? What if my mother fell?
Outside, my brother was taking a smoke break. I knew he was going back in, so I asked him to check the chair again for us to make sure it wouldn’t fall. He agreed to.
Looking back on it now, I should have just let it go. The chair was fine the way Larry and I had it. But I wanted the extra “checking” that my brother would give it.
Small things in the grand scheme of OCD, but they were enough to give me pause during the day.
Did OCD or anxiety sneak into your holiday activities?