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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why a Christmas Song Means So Much To Me

As my mom, my kids and I decorate the tree listening to Christmas music, the family keeps asking me to re-play, "Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart." I am the DJ and the person who reaches for items up high -- as I am not crafty, but I am relatively tall. I oblige. I play various versions of the song ranging from Sujfan Stevens to Ariana Grande. They rock out to them all. 

When it is time for a break from all the Christmas tree decorating, we watch movies. The radio stays on as background noise until "Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart" comes on. "Turn it up," they all yell.

It wasn't until recently that I had time to process why we all want to sing along with that song so readily.  

No matter their lyrics and the song's intended message, we have our own meaning written on our hearts. Last Christmas I was not in the hospital, but that is because the cancer clinic is closed on Christmas. The week before and the week after, I was. 

December 29, 2014, was my last intense IV chemo rounding out a toxic, but effective ten months of chemotherapy to kill the leukemia that had invaded my body sometime in early 2014. Doctors found the cancer, March 15, 2014, and got me into remission by April. Then, they made super sure I stayed there. 

Keeping me in remission also meant keeping me very sick. Hair loss. Nausea. Vomiting. Fatigue. Weakness. This became my reality.

Needless to say, last Christmas was not my favorite. I did the best I could to make it special for my two young children. Donations poured in from people I knew well, people I knew a little, people I had never met, family I hadn't seen since 1991. You name it, they sent it. It was amazing to see how we were loved and cared for in ways that we didn't even know we needed to be loved and cared for in! 

But last Christmas, there was still the hair loss. Nausea. Vomiting. Fatigue. Weakness. My throat closed in pain as I watched my hair go down the drain.

Last Christmas, people looked at me differently. Scared almost. A look of a wonder filled their faces, as if they were asking themselves, "Can I catch it?" 

Last Christmas, my kids would climb up on my lap and rub my hairless head and say, "It's okay momma, I love you anyway."

Last Christmas, I would turn down invites to Christmas parties, because I didn't know how I could even get dressed up and fancy with my chemo filled, discolored face, and lack of any cute hair style. So I stayed home in over-worn sweats.  

Last Christmas was a beautiful and chaotic combination of the good and the bad and of the heartwarming and the heartwrenching.

This Christmas I am not tired. I never throw up. I am strong. And, I HAVE HAIR!!!! 


So when, that all familiar line, "last Christmas I gave you my heart" comes on, I crank it up extra loud, because last Christmas makes me so very thankful for all the moments I am spending with my kids this Christmas.

Be sure to check back for more of our 12 Days of Christmas.

Brienne is a mom of two beautiful children, an educator and health and exercise guru.


  1. Merry Christmas warrior mama and here's to many more happy and HEALTHY holidays!! You are inspiring 😘

    1. Thank you so much! Happy Healthy Holidays are the best!