It’s the winter holidays, and this time of year, many of us with chronic illness feel extra blue. We may not be able to travel because of our illnesses, or we may have less money to spend on gifts because our health expenses are high. We might feel like we can’t attend parties because there won’t be anything for us to eat or drink; we might even feel like we won’t have anything new to talk about, and that’s uncomfortable.

This holiday season, I hope you’ll give an extra thought to your friend who’s ill. To make it easier, I’ve come up with a long list of ways you can show you care. This is great for those of us sick chicks to share with each other (we’ve got to support one another!) and it’s a great list to share with our loved ones, who might want to support us but don’t know how.

Your chronically ill friend needs you! And loved ones need to learn how to support sick folks, too.

Share this list with folks you love, okay babe? And have the happiest holiday season possible.

  1. Text your sick friend to say hello, or I love you, or how’s your day going – something simple.
  2. Offer to do a quick grocery store run for your friend, even it’s just to pick up a few essentials.
  3. If you can’t run an errand for your friend in person, use a service like Postmates to deliver food,  groceries, or sundries. 
  4. Set a date with your chronically ill friend to watch a movie together. If you can’t do it in person, schedule a date when both of you can stream the movie at the same time, and hop on the phone to watch and giggle together.
  5. Make a recurring calendar reminder every three days to check in with your friend. The holiday season can get hectic and you might forget, but your friend needs you.
  6. Offer to drive your friend to some errands they need to run, especially shopping, going to the post office, or even doctor visits. That way you can catch up and make something otherwise mundane more fun.
  7. Buy your friend a month of membership in the ChronicBabe Academy, so they can make more friends with chronic illness–and learn how to empower themselves.
  8. Call your friend on the holiday and tell them you love them – people so rarely make phone calls now, they’ve become a real treat!
  9. Collect your sick friends’ addresses using a program like Postable and then send them a postcard to arrive during the holidays.
  10. Bake something you know your friend will love, keeping in mind their dietary preferences or limitations – ask first!
  11. If you don’t bake, ask around for a recommendation for a bakery that caters to your friend’s restrictions (gluten-free, vegan, etc.) and order them something special.
  12. Ask your friend “how are you?” and be ready to hear whatever she/he has to say.
  13. Offer to come over and help fold laundry. Seriously — sometimes we just need a little assist with the basics so we can save up enough energy to go to a party. 
  14. Buy your friend a one-month membership to the Uncustomary Babe club – it’s $5 and super-fun!
  15. Throw a bunch of stocking stuffer-like items in a box and send it as a gift for your friend. Big hits: nail polish, yummy-smelling moisturizer, chocolates, candles, cute cheap earrings, healing crystals… whatever your friend might like.
  16. If you live far away from your friend, schedule a video chat over the holidays to catch up.
  17. Offer to help your friend wrap gifts, trim the tree, hang outdoor decorations, or otherwise prepare for the holiday.
  18. Invite your friend as your “date” to a party, with the understanding that if they can only stay for an hour, that’s fine. 
  19. Hand-write your friend a letter, telling her/him all the things you love about them, and send it in the mail so it arrives during the holiday season.
  20. Remind your chronically ill friend that their value to this world isn’t monetary — it’s all about their spirit and how they brighten your life. 
  21. Find some fun GIFs to text your friend each day during the holiday season. 
  22. Offer to cook a tofurkey or gluten-free cornbread… or whatever they love… for an upcoming group or family meal. Essentially, help them feel like they’re included, and that it’s not a hassle. 
  23. Make your friend a Christmas ornament with an inspiring quote or saying, so that every day they can see a reminder that you believe in them. If they don’t celebrate Christmas, consider framing it in a cute frame for their nightstand.
  24. Brainstorm with your friend to create your own homemade holiday, one that happens at a different time of year, and celebrates the thing you both love most. Merry Popcorn Day! Happy Seinfeld Reruns Week! Make it your own, and make it special.
  25. Above all, stay in touch. Your friend needs you. 

Oh, and P.S.: What did I miss?

I’m sure you have more ideas about how we can support each other. Share them in the comments below!