The ho-ho-holidays are upon us! Reindeer! Jingle Bells! Food for literal days because you’re poor and have to ration the leftovers from your family gathering! To be honest, though, as I’ve gotten older, this time of year has started to feel less magical and more like a constant source of stress. I feel stretched out in every direction, whether it’s figuring out how to split time between my family and my partner’s, how I can buy gifts with the zero money I have, or even just worrying about work hours. It’s exhausting, and it makes what was once my favorite time of the year feel like something that’s trying to break me.
The holidays used to be a time when I’d get weeks off from school, a chance to catch up on the “Gossip Girl” or “Supernatural” episodes I missed, and an opportunity to dress nicely and eat a bunch of food in someone’s home with my extended family. It was amazing. Magical. It never felt like it lasted long enough. Now, I feel like I’m trying to budget my non-existent money to afford gifts for everyone on my list on top of trying to organize my schedule to accommodate everyone, all while picking up shifts at work to mitigate the fact that I am both broke af and am maybe looking for an excuse to not attend certain holiday functions.
So, basically, I dread the holidays now lol. Everything I used to look forward to feels like it’s turned on me and is now trying to feed off my misery. But, like, I get it. As we get older and take on more responsibilities, whether that be at work or in other peoples’ lives, the holidays can feel like they’re less about that warm feeling of togetherness and peppermint mocha, and more about how to survive a couple days of panicked shopping, or in-laws, or thinking about how you have to go work on Christmas Eve or on the 26th. For many of us, Christmas can start to feel like just another day to get through.
But, what if it didn’t have to be? What if you could wake up and be excited about presents and family and food (mostly food)? What if you could, instead of expending energy wishing you could be a hermit, enjoy the magic and wonder of the holidays?
This year, instead of thinking about everything swirling in your head, I’m going to try to do just this.
For me, this means that I will try to be aware of what is happening in the moment and showing gratitude for what I have. Rather than think about how early I have to wake up for work the next day and letting that make me sad, I’m going to focus on how much I enjoy being around my loved ones. I am going to listen and have conversations with my family as we sit around the table eating dim sum out of Styrofoam containers instead of worrying about what my partner’s family thinks of my not being with them. I am going to make a gingerbread house while listening to the Hanson Christmas CD (or my curated self-care holiday playlist). I am going to appreciate the holidays and the joy they bring me again!!!
Showing gratitude for the things you are surrounded by is a mood booster like no other, and can help when things start to feel overwhelming. Also, if all else fails, my former therapist told me to find a small dark corner and hide whenever I feel like I want to cry or combust. So, that might work, too.