What do you do when the holidays are right around the corner and you are not in the mood to celebrate? How do you get through the holidays when you just want to skip them? Here are the reasons why I choose to spend time with my family and friends even when I am missing the holiday spirit.
How to Get Through the Holidays When You Really Just Want to Skip Them
Okay readers, we made it through Thanksgiving. If you are walking around with a slightly dazed look and are wondering how you are going to get on the happy train for Christmas, then read on.
I’m not even sure how to write about the holidays this year. For the second time in a few years, our family is off-balance. Bad things happen in life. People we wish were with us, aren’t. And sometimes those of us that try to be together, just can’t do it with grace and cheerfulness, no matter how hard we try.
Most of us will try to put this aside and just do our best to “celebrate.” But what do you do when you just aren’t feeling the celebration and you aren’t sure you can even do it.
Despite that lack of holiday spirit, I think there are some very good reasons to make the effort. I’m going to share why I’m going to share the holidays with loved ones, even though I don’t feel in the spirit.
Holiday Times are Stressful Times
Emotions can run high or they can be low. Feelings can get hurt. It takes some resolve and effort to navigate these times. Despite, the sometimes uneven results, I do believe with all my heart, that being together is worth the effort.
Holidays can be stressful, even in the best of times! I see a lot of posts about “getting through” the holidays. It kind of makes me sad that the holidays are so stressful we have to strategize just to get through.
First, we have to face all our relationships,
- Seeing family
- Not seeing family
- Blending families
- Dealing with ex-partners
- Dealing with new family members
- Wishing someone is here that isn’t
In addition, we see the holidays as times when we’ll be
- Eating too much
- Exercising too little
- Gaining weight
- Spending too much money
There are just so many issues that come up at the holiday time!
One of my stresses is the whole gift buying thing. I stress because I wait until the last minute, I stress over how much things cost, and I stress whether anyone will even like what I give them.
Why, can’t everyone just commit to minimalism too and we can be done with this torturous tradition?
Yet, I still show up, with my beautifully wrapped but under-whelming gifts in hand.
And that will be the least of my problems.
I will be sharing the day with 8–12 other humans that I care about. In fact, I love them all. My ex-husband will be one of them. However, almost everyone in our group is facing some serious challenges this year.
We are one big happy family—yet we aren’t. And I can’t fix any of it. I can only hold a space full of love, that I can only seem to express in inadequate and imperfect ways.
And on that day, we will try to put most of this aside and just “celebrate.”
But what do you do when you and most of the people you love just aren’t feeling the celebration?
How do you get through the holidays when you really just want to skip them? Here are the things that motivate me to spend the holidays with family and friends even when I’m not feeling the spirit.
Feeling left out can feel worse than being there.
I hate missing out on family things! My family? Honestly they are my favorite people. So, it would have to be very extreme for me to miss out on a family event. To tell the truth, I’ve only skipped out once. The year I was going through my divorce, I just couldn’t do Christmas Eve with my in-laws that year. It meant missing out on Christmas Eve with my own children though.
I thought about skipping Thanksgiving once. It was the first year after the divorce and my ex-husband was going to be there too. One of the kids was hosting and invited everyone. It was up to us to come or not come. They didn’t want to do separate Thanksgiving dinners.
It seemed kind of harsh that they did that, that year. Yet, it was also kind of brilliant.
So, I didn’t skip it. I went. I don’t think I stayed long but I did it. And I survived. I actually did better than survive. I knew that most of the angst I thought I would feel, was mostly in my head—before the event.
The event itself was fine. I enjoyed the people and food and being a family. Since then, our family has celebrated holidays and birthdays together. I’ve had my ex to my place and I’ve been to his. We’ve even done a trip as a family.
I’m not sure we would have been able to do this, if I’d kept skipping holidays because I thought they’d be too hard. And for what it’s worth, being able to do things, all together without too much drama makes me happy.
Even when times are tough, these are the people that know me best and I don’t have to pretend too much around them.
Give yourself permission to participate as much or as little as you need. From personal experience, even though I’ve at times wanted to skip things, I didn’t. For me, I decided the feeling of being left out would feel worse than being there.
Life can change in an instant. Appreciate the people you have in your life now.
Even if they aren’t perfect, if you have family or friends to be with at the holidays, you are blessed. In the last few years, we’ve lost a few members of our family. You really don’t know when the last time you’ll see someone is the LAST time you’ll see them.
Last year, at my daughter’s wedding, I was super busy being the mom of the bride and such. I didn’t have time to spend with many of the guests. I was happy that they were having fun and I was happy they were there. Yet, I don’t remember having too many conversations.
Except one. It was short and I’ll remember it forever. Remember my ex in-laws from the Christmas story above? Well, this was the first time, I was going to be spending significant time with them. For some reason, I ended up in an airport for a couple of hours with ALL of them, minus my ex-husband.
They embraced me like I hadn’t been a freaking avoiding weirdo for a year and half and we shared a few bottles of wine waiting for our next flight.
One of my brother-in-laws, made a special point of telling me that I would always be his sister and that he loved me. Once to our destination, I don’t remember talking with him again.
I had no idea that this would be the last time, I would spend with this beloved member of my family.
Little did I know, that my brother-in-law would die suddenly only a couple of months later. I can’t go back in time and spend another Christmas Eve with him, but I also won’t let another holiday go by and not celebrate in some way with the people I love.
Don’t compare your holiday, friends, or family to what you see online
Allow your holiday to be imperfect. You don’t get bonus points in life for having a “perfect” holiday. You do get points, so to speak, for showing up, and being with your people.
I was at a good friend’s home last week. She was putting up her gorgeous decorations. Her house glittered with soft lights and beautiful things. Christmas music was playing. She was looking forward to her family arriving.
Usually, I feel wonderful being in her house. This time I felt sad. I started comparing my life to hers. I missed having a big house and a husband to bring in the tree.
And you can’t be online without seeing all the holiday themed things people are doing.
Before you start feeling sorry for me, I have to fess up. I’ve never been a holiday decorator. At Christmas, I did a tree and maybe a few other things strewn about. I enjoy these things, but I don’t get around to them left on my own. But I do miss having people that kind of force me to make an effort.
This is a choice—not a deprivation.
Yet, it’s so easy to look at our lives, our families, or even our decorations and feel like we don’t measure up in some way. This is NOT helpful at all!
Be kind to yourself and others.
My friend Kathryn talks about kindness in a FB Live video we made together. Being kind is something that she values. In the video, she quoted something from the movie Bambi.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin at all.”
That’s great advice. I’m kind of terrible about following it at times. I get hurt easily and I tend to snap when I’m feeling anxious. This is not a good combination! In our video, I mention twice that I need to tattoo this quote on my hand where I can constantly see it.
I always regret saying something unkind. Always.
As we go into the holidays, this is something that I want to remember to practice. Not some of the time. Not just when I’m feeling good. But all of the time. With everyone.
How to Get Through the Holidays When You REALLY Want to Skip Them
Thanks for reading along on this post. As a writer, sometimes I don’t actually know the end of the story when I begin writing.
Any doubts I had about how I was going to spend my holiday have been eased. I know how important my family and friends are to me. I want them in my life and at these times no matter how I’m feeling.
These are my people and I am their people. This is what we do, the best that we can. I don’t think there’s any one absolute right way to do something that works for everyone. You really do have to choose what is best for you.
I wish you peace, love, and even joy during this season.
Keep showing up my friends!
Feel free to check me out on my Facebook page. I’ve been having fun making live videos lately.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.