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The Definition of “Holiday”

Editor’s Note: John Lucas, the creator of The Face Caddy, has been such an incredible supporter of all of us who struggle with jaw pain. In this blog post, he shares his philosophy on holidays and pain.

What a year. Does anybody else feel like it was part fairytale and part nightmare?

The ups and downs of our country, if not the world, can cause even the saintliest of us to lose it, panic, stress, spend all our money, overeat or just plain drive too fast! I think it’s that “fight or flight” syndrome-thingy. And when you add in a chronic condition like TMJD, your mental health barometer can pretty much blow up. Pain can make anything worse.

So as this holiday rolls up to your front door, how do you open yourself to the festivities, commitments, family, cooking, eating, helping, shopping, spending and “being of good cheer”? Is that even possible?

I’m going to say “yes,” that is possible. But what gets us into trouble is “over-yessing.” And yes, I just made that word up. My point is, what is possible for one person does not have to be the possible for another. Whatever you want to call it… limits, boundaries…they are not pre-established and not non-negotiable.

When TMJD pain, complications or necessary treatment come down the chimney, all agreed-to-plans go back on the table. Doing this for yourself will take at least some of the pressure out of your day, which could also take some of the pressure off of your jaw. The superhero mentality that family, friends, coworkers and our culture in general expect from you is selfish and narcissistic to say the least.

And who suffers from it? That’s right. Not them.

I love to look up words. Especially words that I have a preconceived idea about what they mean. So I looked up “holiday.” Now without thinking much about it, most of us probably have the same idea about what a holiday is. We think of it as a particular day or season, like the 4th of July, or Christmas, Hanukkah or New Years Day. But the actual definition of “holiday” is not really about the particular day, it’s more about what happens on the day:

A holiday is a day set aside on which normal activities, especially business or work including school, are suspended or reduced.

Hmmm. So I read that and I really took it to heart. A day set aside from normal activities. What does that mean to you? What is your “normal” on a holiday? What are your “activities” on a holiday? How many of us actually set aside normal activities on a holiday?

If you’re anything like me, I get hyper-normal with hyper-activities during the holiday season. I over commit. I basically over-everything. I can turn a holiday into a people-pleasing festival. I really lose the whole holiday spirit. Literally.

So I’m writing this, right in the midst of this holiday season, to remind you, and myself, what a holiday is. It’s a break. It’s a release from the “normal activities” of life. And it’s never too late to start your holiday over. If you’ve been over-anything-ing (another word I just made up), it can be a trigger for your pain, and that’s no holiday.

I’m sending you true holiday wishes, hoping you set aside your normal activities. Blessings to us all.

John Lucas is a writer who lives in Manhattan and Winston-Salem, NC. He is the inventor of the Face Caddy, Hot and Cold Therapy Wrap. His monthly column is about TMJ and the stories around it. Contact him at:

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