Laurie is on vacation, so this is my version of our annual list. This is (mostly) for folks who celebrate the upcoming holidays, and are fortunate enough to have people and resources to celebrate with; if you don’t fit that group, skip to the bottom. If you do fit, then even if your family are your favorite people and you look forward all year to the holidays, you still may find useful hints here.
1 – You have a right to enjoy things in your own way. To the extent possible, do as much or as little holiday stuff as you want; it’s supposed to be a celebration, not an obligation.
2 – Spend time with people who know you’re awesome. If you must spend time with people who are toxic, remind yourself three times (out loud) in your last alone moments before seeing them that they are toxic. Then do something really nice for yourself the minute you are out of their presence. (If they are not just toxic but abusive, here’s some excellent advice.)
3 – Eat what you enjoy and don’t eat what you don’t enjoy. Desserts are not sinful, they’re just desserts, and relatives who push you to eat (or not to eat) are not in charge of your choices. If you have a history of eating disorders, or currently struggle with them, this may help.
4 – Wear what you think you look terrific in; accept compliments and ignore digs about your clothes.
5 – Plan your responses to inevitable comments beforehand. If you have family members who support the deplorable U.S. administration, you do not have to put up with racist, Islamophobic, anti-science, or other hateful comments. Decide in advance whether you want to actively disagree with them (marshal your facts in advance), to cut off the conversation with “We disagree, and I’m not willing to discuss it here,” or to just walk away. Make a promise to yourself in advance that you’ll follow through with whatever approach you choose. In any event, try not to spend too much energy on them.
6 – Not spending too much energy applies to the the personal digs too. For example, if you know that your sister is going to tell you, “for your own good,” how unbecoming your hairstyle is, be prepared to say, “I appreciate your concern. Excuse me, I really want to catch up with Uncle Harry.”
6 – If you think kids are fun, they can be a great escape from the adult follies. If kids drive you crazy, keep your distance when you can, and try to keep your patience otherwise: they didn’t overstimulate themselves with sugar and toys.
7 – If you have enough to give to someone who has less, do it. If you know someone who is having a crappy holiday, even if you are too, taking a moment to do something for them that they will enjoy might make you feel better, if it feels right to you.
8 – If you hate the holidays, or they make you sad, you have lots of company. Participate as little as possible. They’ll be over soon. If you’re wishing you had someone (someone particular or folks in general) to spend the holidays with, treat yourself with special care. If you’re a volunteering type, that can work, but so can staying at home and taking a bubble bath.
9 – Be effusive about every gift you get; then be discreetly rude about the awful ones later to your friends. If they’re really awful, throw them off a bridge in the middle of the night.
10 – If it suits you, look for comedies, poetry, and other nonpolitical reading, viewing and listening matter during these weeks. Looking at beautiful art and photography can also feed you.
If these aren’t your holidays, have a great Chinese meal and enjoy the movie!
We’ll be back in the beginning of the New Year.
Photo at the top by Ashleigh Scully, one of the winners in the Guardian’s 2017 Wildlife Photos of the Year: 11-14 age category. Be warned: the link starts with a very disturbing photo, but most of the others are beautiful and satisfying.