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Holiday Thriv-ival Guide - Updated

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

I originally wrote this in 2019 - and with all the recent changes, upheavals and evolutions (both collective and personal) I felt it was time to revisit. Since this topic’s first exploration, I’ve pinpointed hidden trauma and chosen to NOT return to places that were making me sick.

The binary of surviving versus thriving also feels a bit outdated - and I don't necessarily have other words, but that feels like a whole other topic/post/exploration.

Side story: For a few years in a row, I found myself mysteriously sick leading up to the holiday weeks. The sickness would manifest in many different ways: stomach bug, headaches, extreme exhaustion, and finally just overall -ick. My symptoms would just as mysteriously recede somewhere around the 26th. The great PAUSE of 2020 helped clue me in to what was hidden in plain sight. And I’ve made adjustments that better serve my well-being.

My 2019 intro words (with edits for 2022):

Holidays just aren’t quite what they used to be! Being 30+ (ok now sitting pretty at 40) with no kids in my immediate family (now my baby sister has a wee one - weird!), 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 (colonized) holiday traditions, these tips can be useful for any “expected” family or social gatherings.

And suggestions:

  • Pare down your holidays. As a child of divorce, and constant back-and-forth holiday time, as an adult it's been important to make choices and not try to do it all. In 2014 I quit Thanksgiving. This day has never been my favorite - life long picky eater. I practice gratitude daily-ish, so no need to wait to count my blessings. And ya know there’s the whole weird celebration of genecide and colonization part. My first year sans-Thanksgiving-4-day-weekend was spent completely alone, eating tacos, and watching Netflix…..and I LOVED it! I either travel some place warm or spend time outside in Charlotte followed by ordering Indian food. :)

  • Spread out your celebrations. 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. January isn’t too late to celebrate this season with the people you love. For that matter, neither is February!

  • Create clear boundaries. My personal favorite: 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, it quickly became unnecessary. This can also look like bringing/preparing a few dishes that I know I will eat and/or requesting folks to take covid tests before arriving.

  • Don’t forget the basics of your self-care. Eat, sleep, shower, and take your meds/vitamins. Set reminders in your phone to help with the days with less structure.

  • Take a time out. Or maybe a non-smokers break. (Backstory: when I worked in restaurants, I would take non-smokers breaks when all the smokers would go outside. I wanted outside time too!) 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 - yes, multiple. There's something magical about the fresh start of a new year. 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 may feel 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 used to look like driving 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.

  • Visualization time -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. Feel free to check in with your force-field and re-fortify as necessary.

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!


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