You can retire old traditions that don’t feel meaningful anymore.
You can create new traditions, including body positive rituals, that do.
You can tell people no.
You can buy big gifts or small gifts or make your own gifts or don’t do any gifts at all.
You can buy Christmas cards or make your own cards or forget the cards. Instead, you can call or text or send an email. Again, you can do what feels best for you.
You can celebrate the holiday season or you can skip it altogether. (One clinician’s client boycotted Christmas after losing her mother that summer. According to the therapist in my piece: “…I actually think this can be a better coping strategy than painting a smile on your face and going to parties at a time when you’re hurting inside.” Plus by acknowledging your feelings, “you’re more likely to heal than if you ignore the feelings and ‘push through’ at this time of year.”)
There’s always a solution, an alternative. There’s always something you can do, so you feel comfortable and good.
Your holiday doesn’t have to look like a Pinterest page — unless that’s fun and enjoyable for you, unless it makes you happy.
You don’t have to do it all on your own. You can outsource. You can delegate. You can delete the task from your list.
You don’t have to listen to people make comments about your body, about what you’re eating.
You can ignore all the articles and ads that demonize food and anyone who eats dessert and doesn’t diet. You don’t need to know any tips and tricks for manipulating your body. Instead, you can savor the foods you really like.
You can create a to-don’t list of everything that doesn’t nourish you, and thus, you won’t be doing.
You can feel however it is that you really feel. Sometimes, we think we should be happier but we just aren’t. Or we should be more grateful but we’re having a tough time. Try to drop the shoulds. Feel how you feel — without judging yourself for not being happier or more grateful or calmer or more joyful. Just feel how you feel.
You can ask yourself: “What is the nicest, kindest thing I can do for myself right now?” And let that answer guide your next step.
This holiday season can be about whatever you want it to be about — the deep religious meanings; giving to others; family; love; joy; all of that or none of it; or something else entirely.
Take a moment to think about what the holidays mean to you. Think about how you’d like to celebrate (or not) on your own terms.
By the way, Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate! Tonight, we’ll be enjoying a beautiful dinner made by my mom and reading the story of the Maccabees as we do every year.