It’s that time of year again… The Holiday Season.
Here in the US, the store shelves are stocked with holiday decor. The decorations are going up in the town squares all around the country. Soon there will be bell ringers and carolers and Santa in the mall. It’s a barrage of sights and sounds and reminders for a solid 2 months, sometimes longer. There is just one question…..
How are you supposed to survive the entire holiday season when you aren’t a fan of the holidays?
All the holiday loving people are in their element, decorating, shopping, cooking, planning, and all the other “ing” things that go with getting ready for the various holiday celebrations.
For others who aren’t fans of the holiday season, it can be a tough time.
A lot of people struggle a great deal with depression during the holidays. The mainstream media, holiday advertisements and general assumptions of the populace focuses on family, visiting loved ones, sharing gifts and meals and gathering together. Because of all this hype and expectation, it’s easy to feel like absolutely everybody else in the world except you has something to do and somewhere to go.
By The Holiday Season, for the remainder of this post, I am talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas mainly.
(I am NOT in any way devaluing any traditions, beliefs or aspects of the holiday celebration expectations in this post. I am just pointing out another way to look at what is often a difficult time for some people.)
These seem to be the two holidays that are associated by the mainstream as being ones for families to have parties and celebrate and show togetherness. The Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are the ones pictured with love, laughter and lights in all the commercials and holiday movies. Granted, there are many families who do celebrate the season in these big, warm, wonderful ways. There are others who get together because it is expected and struggle through with some enjoyment, but also with a great deal of stress and frustration and possible dysfunction!
What about the rest of us? There are plenty of people out there who don’t “do” the holiday season. For whatever reason, we don’t celebrate with our families. Maybe we just don’t want to, or maybe we are holiday orphans who have no family to celebrate with. We must go through this season also, and sometimes it can get difficult. Everyone else seems to have a purpose and focus. Plans are being made for all the celebrations, parties and family get-togethers. Presents are being purchased for exchange. Decorations and lights are everywhere and holiday music is on every radio station and piped into every business.
We can’t escape the hubbub. It’s everywhere in sight, sound and smell. It’s supposed to be the “happiest time of the year.” However, those of us who won’t be celebrating often feel like there is something wrong with us. We may feel left out and forgotten. Unloved. Lonely.
Here’s the thing anybody who might feel alone, lonely, forgotten, unloved or left out needs to remember: there are a LOT of people out there NOT celebrating.
Many choose not to, others may wish to but not have anywhere to go. You just don’t hear from them because, well, they AREN’T celebrating, so there isn’t anything to hear about. There is nothing wrong with NOT having holiday plans.
It just seems like there is so much expectation for everybody to be doing something holiday related with others, and it makes me sad when people who DON’T have plans to celebrate feel like they should.
The way the media, movies, and our culture portrays this entire season is based on a way of life that is not really “the norm” anymore.
There are so many branches of step parents, half siblings, duplicate grandparents and other offshoots of the typical family that it is not possible to have “the whole family” over for the holiday in a lot of cases. Some of the people I know who now have kids of their own but are from split up parents sometimes have 3-4 different branches to visit each holiday. There is no time to sit around the beautifully decorated table with the loved ones and enjoy the elaborate meal 3-4 times in one day. Instead, their day is spent rushing to and from all the relatives homes, grabbing a quick drink, hug and bite of pie, but not really getting a chance to connect with anybody because they have to hurry and rush to the next place.
Many other people I know, (myself included for many years) end up having the family get together on different days before or after the actual holiday since there are so many branches to fit in. This often entails the actual “day of” Thanksgiving or Christmas ending up being anticlimactic and uneventful because all of the celebrations were done on other days.
Because retail and other businesses are often open on holidays now, a lot of times family members can’t celebrate during the actual days anyway. They must work.
Children of single parents go to one parent’s home and the other parent might not have anything going on.
As kids get older, they sometimes would rather hang out with friends or significant others than family.
The year my only child was 14, I remember dreading putting “the tree” up since I knew that after he opened presents, he was heading to his girlfriend’s house for their big family celebration. I asked him if he minded if we didn’t have a tree that year. His response: “As long as I get presents, it doesn’t matter to me about a tree.”
Haven’t had a tree or any holiday décor since. Don’t miss it.
Since I now own a pet sitting company, I haven’t had any sort of holiday celebration for over 5 years. Instead I spend the days leading up to and after the high holidays taking care of pets while their pet parents attend holiday celebrations. I don’t mind and actually prefer it this way. It really takes the whole holiday hype pressure off, since I know I’ll be busy with pet visits.
The holidays are not all they are cracked up to be.
Just consider them regular days and don’t get caught up in the notion that you have to be celebrating or spending time building snowmen with rosy cheeked children and Golden Retrievers. A holiday is just a day that for whatever reason, our culture considers a day to do something out of the ordinary and now it is the norm to do the extraordinary stuff out of tradition.
So, without further ado, I want to let all of you know that if you don’t have any plans for the holidays, THAT is OK!!!
You are fine. Whether you choose not to celebrate for personal reasons or are a holiday orphan, there is nothing wrong with you. It is perfectly fine to just ignore this time of year. Please try NOT to get sucked into any sort of depression because you aren’t partying, buying presents or otherwise engaging in any other expected seasonal activities. Instead, take this time to celebrate you and to focus on some self- love and TLC.
Here are some ideas to take the pressure off when you feel like you should be in the midst of holiday planning but you aren’t.
- Go to the library and get a stack of books you find interesting. They can be fiction, non-fiction or a combination of both. Just use any down time you have and get lost in a good book.
- Sleep in, go to bed early, take naps. Catch up on rest and relaxation.
- Do things you keep meaning to do but never seem to have the time.
- Give your home a good cleaning. Invest in some natural cleaners with uplifting essential oils to create a clean, refreshing space.
- Remember when you were at the library? Grab some cook books. Go to the store and get ingredients for a few special dishes and cook your little heart out. If you feel the urge to share, make up some care packages for your neighbors or coworkers.
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are filled with residents who would love some company. Make arrangements in advance to schedule some days to visit with residents. If you have a talent, you can even see if they would want you to provide some entertainment.
- Many businesses hire for holiday help. Even if you aren’t partaking in holiday celebrations, you could pick up some hours and partake in a few extra pennies.
- There are often social groups that have events going on for anybody who wants to join. Check out “Meetup.com” to find some in your area.
- Get a head start on the upcoming new year by creating an action plan to greatness.
- Finally, if anybody has invited you to join their celebration and you sort of want to but aren’t sure, just say yes and go!
I think the key to making the holidays a better time of year for you if you aren’t a fan of them now is to look at the whole season from a new perspective. Find ways to make it a positive time for you. Don’t compare yourself or your situation to others. Don’t feel you must do something just because it is the normal way. Create your own path. Be yourself! Create your own traditions! Share those ideas with others.
I love to hear from you. Do you love the holiday season or is it not your favorite time of year? Do you have any of your own ideas to help others who might struggle with feeling positive during the holidays? Please share in the comments below.