(Caveat: This is NOT for people who love the holidays & think they’re the jolliest. If you think they are, skip this post completely.)
As soon as the adorable kids in their uterus-tugging costumes walk away from the house and the Halloween decorations come down, you know it’s time for the holidays to really begin. CVS has had Christmas decor up since August and you’ve been hearing Deck The Halls-esque songs since the school year kicked off. (Side note: in Norway, they don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving so they’ve been ready for Christmas with their Norwegian sweaters and tinsel for months.) In the US, we’re bombarded with Black Friday ads since before the leaves change color – and yet all we can think about is “which relatives will be talking about their political views and how do I stay far away from them?”
DID YOU KNOW: Two of the synonyms for “expectation” are FEAR and HOPE?!
Anyway – in case you were wondering, there are LOTS of articles about how to handle the holidays. They tell you all you have to do is: be positive, be grateful, love yourself, and breathe. Easy peasy. *eyeroll*
I mean, I’m typically a super positive human but I have to ask – have you ever wanted to punch someone when they tell you to “just be positive”? It’s not as easy as they say. And the people who say things like “just be positive” are probably the people who need to hear that the most. Also, “just” is demeaning. As if it was nothing.
Since I can’t find an article on how to unsuck the holidays without “just being positive,” I’m writing the dang thing myself. Mostly because I need to hear this but if it helps you as well? BOOM! Winning.
Let’s start with yoga. (but not really)
I was in a yoga class this weekend, and the teacher started the class sharing a prayer asking for wisdom through our pure thoughts, our pure words, and our pure hearts. We touched our foreheads, lips, and hearts. Throughout the class, every time we would get into Star pose (where you basically spread your arms & legs like a star), we would squat into Horse (where you squat in Star pose & put your hands in prayer in front of your heart) and touch our head, lips and heart. It was a reminder to purify our thoughts, words, and intentions. Over and over – for an hour. By the end, it was with each of us.
I walked out of class into the icy weather with a renewed heart, happier thoughts, and joyful words. It was just what I needed. A reminder that everything I have to give this holiday season is inside of me – not anyone else.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now let’s talk about church. (but not really)
That same day, I went to a church service about Forgiveness. I had just taken a test about my Strengths and got 100% on Forgiveness. I felt like – this is gonna be an easy service. I’ve got this.
Until he started talking about how most of us have a hard time forgiving OURSELVES. *sigh* Yep, he got me. I’m REALLY good at forgiving other people – but beating myself up about things I’ve done? Or things other people blame me for? I’m also really good at that. Typically I beat myself to a bloody pulp – FOR YEARS. (I still beat myself up over stuff that happened over 20 years ago…) By the end of the service, I was realizing how many things I had to let go of – that it wasn’t about being forgiven by others, but by MYSELF!
The fun of being human. Always something to work on.
Holidays are the best test of patience and self-reflection. From relatives who think you’re crazy for your political views, sexual orientation, tattoos, or haircut to the grating holiday music your older sister HAS to play on the untuned piano (and sing along to), there just isn’t enough rum in the eggnog to make it through. Not making the horrified face when you open a present from “that” uncle is almost impossible. And getting lipstick on your face (again) from your second cousin’s aunt Rose is imperative. Until your grandma reminds you that you’re too tall to find a man and you become 15 years old again sitting in the corner drinking more than your share of wine from a coffee mug so no one can see you’re a lush.
“Just be positive” isn’t going to work – but this weekend made me rethink how I can approach the holidays. You’re welcome to join me in my new holiday habits over the next weeks. Let’s change the conversation in our heads and see how we can find a little more of ourselves during the holidays.
10 Steps To Unsuck The Holidays
1. Forgive yourself.
That thing that happened when you were 17 isn’t your fault. Your brain wasn’t even fully developed yet. The stuff you think others still hate you for – it’s over and only you are still mad about it. That divorce, miscarriage, fight, misunderstanding – whatever it was. Let go of the mean things you think about yourself and whatever you feel is your fault – and forgive yourself for good. Then move on.
2. Limit social media scrolling.
Everyone is going to post all of their awesome holiday fun on social media – not all the fights or tears. Use the new iPhone Screen Time app to limit your usage so you aren’t just hiding in the bathroom scrolling through everyone’s parties while you’re miserable wishing you were somewhere else. If you’re having a tough time, share it with a friend. They’re probably have a tough time as well & can commiserate with you without making you feel worse.
3. Say nice things.
To yourself AND to others. While you’re sitting there judging yourself for what everyone else thinks of you and judging your family/friends for all their shit, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Find something you appreciate about yourself and the people you’re around – and say it out loud. The more nice things you say, the happier you’ll feel.
4. Buy yourself something you don’t need.
It doesn’t have to be expensive (but it can be if you really like to do that for yourself.) Choose something you REALLY want and buy it for yourself. All expectations for what you’ll get as a gift will disappear and you’ll enjoy yourself. (I’m buying myself a massage package to my favorite masseuse. #necessary)
5. Walk away.
When the shit hits the fan (and it will), instead of getting upset about it, take a deep breathe, say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” close your mouth and walk away from the situation. Period. Then text a friend who will cheer you up, go back in and keep holiday-ing. Staying in an argument or in a place where you’re feeling offended isn’t going to help you keep up the holiday spirit.
6. Do something nice for someone else.
Especially if they don’t expect it. And maybe even without them realizing it was you. Leave a sweet thank you note, gift a gift “from Santa,” send an unexpected card, send money to a friend, donate to your favorite organization, text a relative you haven’t talked to in years, spend quality time with humans less fortunate than you, and listen a little longer than you really want to.
7. Make a dish you love.
Food can be a big part of our happy memories. Make the green bean casserole the way you like to make it. Get up early and bake that coffee cake your dad used to make. And eat all the bacon before everyone else wakes up (just like he did.) Do what gets you into the holiday spirit by eating the things that remind you of your happy moments.
8. Know that it’ll be over soon.
The new year is just around the corner and you’ll be well on your way to “keeping” your resolutions. It’s just a season – and it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll have to deal with Valentine’s Day questions. So, ENJOY IT! Even if you have to choose one little thing to enjoy. Take a picture of your favorite part & look back on it with fondness.
9. Cuddle a puppy.
This is one of my favorites. Find a corner and snuggle a dog while you read a book. It’s amazing what dog affection can do for your soul. And stay there for awhile – without anyone realizing you’re gone. Having some downtime in the midst of the craziness will help you stay sane. And dogs are REALLY easy to talk to. They’re GREAT listeners.
10. Make up a new tradition.
Every family has traditions but where did they come from? Someone made them up. Buy everyone an ornament instead of a gift, find a new recipe that will become a staple at the holiday dinner, create a game for the kids to play, teach everyone a new card game, or let the kids stay up late watching holiday movies with the best homemade popcorn in their PJs.
There you go! You’re on your way to unsucking the holidays. (hey! At least it’s not “just be positive.”)
I’m going to make a concerted effort not to let my holidays be ruined by unkind words, thoughtless comments, or ridiculous expectations – especially if a certain person decides it’s necessary to tell me my dog is fat again (he’s FLUFFY!) I hope you’ll join me in this effort to unsuck your holidays. Let me know how it goes. And know that I’ll be posting the good, bad AND the silly. I’m with you, friend.
PS. Need a Kickass holiday gift? Go grab tshirts, tanks & mugs for you and the family members you really like. xoxo Shop