How I survive, and thrive, during “the most wonderful time of the year”
Holidays just aren’t quite what they used to be! Being 30+ with no kids in my immediate family, I’m learning to create my own magic, or at least create spaces that don’t send my nervous system into SOS mode. There are many celebrations and festivities happening this time of year, and while most of my family follows Christian holiday traditions, these tips can be useful for any “expected” family or social gatherings.
Here’s my survive and thrive guide:
I quit Thanksgiving. Yeah, I know it may be a little too late to offer this suggestion this year, but there’s always next year. I give my family Christmas, and even then I have some major boundaries in place. I feel like I could write another entire blog post about my reasons, but as a life-long picky eater, (my grandmother used to make me PB&J after seeing my mostly empty plate), it’s never been my favorite. My first year sans-Thanksgiving-4-day-weekend was spent completely alone, eating tacos, and watching Netflix…..and I LOVED it! Now, I choose to travel on this day, and have never looked back. Pro tip: flights are suuuuuper cheap on Thanksgiving Day and the airports are pretty empty. <check the holiday-eve sunset below>
I don’t sleep in places where the energy feels off. This one was major for me! I spent many, many years sleeping on an air mattress in the floor on my childhood room alternating between freezing and burning up, usually ending up sick afterwards. It used to be cute, now its unnecessary. Getting caught up in family drama shouldn’t have to be a tradition too. I’m lucky to have a free place to stay nearby, and I’m also not afraid to speed on down the highway on odd times of the night in order to sleep in my bed. BONUS: the roads are usually pretty clear of traffic!
January isn’t too late to celebrate this season with the people you love. For that matter, neither is February! Why try and cram all your important parties into just a few weeks?! Spread them out and I bet you will appreciate it more once the official season is over, and the pressure is off.
Be clear and bold in telling your people what you need. Having those difficult conversations with my mom wasn’t the most fun, and in the end she completely understands where I’m coming from. With clear boundaries, I can be more open to listening to what is being said, less reactive, more appreciative of our time together, and all around more pleasant to be around.
Take at least one day, or hour, as just your own! New Year's Eve has been all mine for years. I've quit jobs over having this night off. I've even claimed that working this day is against my religion. There's something magical about the fresh start of a new year. I firmly believe that the way we start our year matters, and I refuse to spend it behind a bar or taking orders from any one. If you don't have this luxury, take time the next day to sit and reflect on your year. Where did you struggle? Where did you find your strength? What lit you up? What made you feel less than? Awareness fosters intention, intention create shifts, and shifts spark magic!
Take naps, often. And don't feel guilty, not even a little bit. This time of year feels fast, taking a nap is an act of rebellion. Be a rebel!
Make your own damn ritual, just for you! My mom would always stay up most of the night to enjoy the quiet magic of the twinkling light tree filled with presents, and the anticipation of my sister and me waking up. For myself, the magic happens at the end of Christmas Day, I drive the “long” way back to Charlotte, which means going through random back roads and neighborhoods of my small-town home. The long drive allows me to observe the growth and changes, appreciate the holiday decor, and sort out any thoughts or memories that may have resurfaced from my visit. Good tunes are a must, and I make no apologies for singing at the top of my lungs.
My favorite ...before entering spaces that could potentially cause harm, visualize a force-field of awesomeness going around your entire body. Mine is definitely covered in sparkles and rainbows, and at times has a unicorn gatekeeper, yours can look however you need it to look. Make sure to tie up any loose ends, and walk in with confidence that your energy is safe.
Overall, it’s up to YOU to find a way to thrive during the holiday season, no matter which ones you choose to celebrate, or not at all. Don’t let ANYONE guilt you into spending your time/energy/money in ways that don’t make you feel amazing! You have the power to create your own magic through your choices of interactions, relationships, and how you spend your time. Life is tough enough, why be force fed that you should feel some type of way? If this season’s sentiment makes you feel less than wonderful, change it! Choose YOUR feelings and happiness, “Future You” will thank you!