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When life throws you a lemon

One of the benefits of convalescing is that one has time to read, and I read a very inspiring article that gave wise counsel on what to do when life throws you a lemon.

The family in the article had a tradition of having a weekly night at home when every member was present. They made the evening extra special with little surprises for their three children. Sometimes games, videos, anything that allowed them to interact together and have fun.

One particular evening they had prepared little gifts for each of their kids to open. The first was a new video, and the child wanted to immediately view it. But the father said, “Hold on, there are two more.”

The second was a box with three lemons in it. “Lemons? – What am I supposed to do with lemons?” the disappointed child wailed.

The third contained popcorn balls.

What a perfect teaching moment for an unforgettable lesson. They made lemonade from the lemons and snacked on popcorn balls while enjoying the video together.

It turned out to be a very valuable lesson for me as well.

Shortly before Christmas that year I suddenly found myself in a difficult situation. A lemon! My husband was rushed to the hospital with severe chest pains just as we were about to drive to a school out of town, where I was to be the guest speaker.

He required emergency gallbladder surgery and the day after his operation, I came down with a bad case of shingles, a painful, stress-induced disease of the nerve endings. In spite of this I was able to be his caregiver when he was discharged from the hospital and he recovered quickly. But I was not so lucky and it took weeks and complications from the medication to slowly get back on my feet.

But I remember a bright spot during those dark days. Devastated about not being able to do our family’s traditional Christmas baking, my mother-in-law (now long gone) knew how to cheer my heart. She surprised me with a basket of home-baked Christmas cookies she had made for me.

Now a lemon again! Also, right in the middle of Christmas preparations.

But I have learned my lesson. I am determined to make lemonade. I am scaling my Christmas busyness way down, making adjustments without skipping the most impor tant family joys and traditions; without losing the main reason for the season: the celebration of the birth of Christ.

I’ve come up with ideas how I can utilize the help of my family without imposing too many demands on their time and efforts. I asked my daughter to come to my house one evening at her convenience and use my ingredients to make the prized Honey Cookie

dough for our treasured gingerbread men, suggesting she keep half of it for her own baking. She just needed a couple of hours to bake my portion, with me sitting beside her pressing the almonds for buttons and eyes on the cut shapes before they went into the oven.

With cookies made, I would not have to disappoint my grandchildren and all the special big and little people in my life who I love and appreciate.

Are you struggling to cope with an unexpected difficult time – a lemon – thrown at you this Christmas? Don’t despair. Seize the moment! Make lemonade!

And have a Merry Christmas.

– Maria Rogalski writes from Winnipeg

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