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How To Survive The Holidays



In my opinion, there are three kinds of people when it comes to celebrating the holidays. 

The first group of people had wonderful memories of the holidays.  Even if they came from dysfunctional families, sometimes all the dysfunction stops during the holiday, and, however so briefly, everything is "normal," or even idealistic during the holiday, before returning to the dysfunction of everyday life.  Often, as adults, they strive to recreate these idealistic holidays they enjoyed as children, which is often unrealistic and leads to frustration. 

The second group of people had nightmarish holidays as children, usually caused by dysfunctional and addictive behavior by the adults in the family, which the now-grown children strive to "put right" for their children, only they often have no vision of what a healthy family celebration should look like.  If they are lucky, they may have functional/healthy neighbors and friends to show them what a healthy holiday celebration/tradition looks like. 

The third group, by far the smallest, were lucky to have a functional (although not perfect - no one's perfect!) family life and holiday celebration.  Often they are able to replicate it as adults, but not always. 

Here are some alternatives to celebrating the holidays:

  • Volunteer during the holidays, ie, helping out at a soup kitchen or at an apartment complex for seniors, nursing home or Adult Congregate Living Facility.  Also consider helping out at a hospital, preferably a children's hospital.
  • Contact a LGB/T - friendly travel agency, and ask about cruises and vacations during the holidays.  If you are single, ask about Christmas vacations that are geared for singles.  Often, holiday excursions are deeply discounted.
  • Go out to a restaurant (especially one with beautiful holiday decorations) with a friend or relative that has no one to celebrate the holidays with.
  • Instead of gifts, make donations in honor of friends and family to charity.  This is most important when it comes to well - to - do people, who are often very difficult to shop for.
  • Shop year 'round for the holidays, if you can, instead of the last minute.
  • Celebrate the holidays year 'round, such as treating friends and relatives to lunch or giving surprise gifts, and then on the holiday itself, call them or send them a holiday greeting card.
  • Cut back on sending greeting cards.
  • If you are artistic, make greeting cards.  There are often free or low cost classes on how to do this, as well as ideas on the Internet.
  • Explore a hobby during the holidays, such as creating artwork, writing or making music.
  • Look at http://www.meetup.com to find holiday alternatives in your locality.
  • Some churches and organizations put on holiday parties on the date or near the date of the holiday.
  • Contact your nearest LGB/T Center for any holidays they may be celebrating or parties they may be giving.  Many have these occasions on the actual date of the holiday.
  • Seek out others who may be alone for the holidays, and celebrate with them.

You are not alone.  Remember almost all people experience stress during the holidays and for a variety of reasons.

You can, reduce holiday stress by taking the time to finding your way of celebrating the holidays, instead of following how your family celebrates the holidays or copying how others celebrate the holidays.


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And another potential path to dealing is that like so many other things, holidays are cultural expectation.  We are taught these feelings and expectations for the time of year, it's not a natural biological/brain chemical response.

We have the choice inside how much weigh to put on this cultural construct while we are figuring it all out.  It takes a lot of years, I know, but from personal experience I know it's possible to take a good look at our actual lives, and adjust our internal feelings about them, which has been the absolute best remedy for me personally in dealing with the change, and I'm in group a, the really dysfunctional, trying to have tv perfect holidays, then back to the day to day crap.   Realizing after several years that it's just another day altered by the cultural understanding which I never really fit into all that great anyway.  This is not a slow process, and not right for everyone, but if you think it might be right for you it's completely worth persuing and can be done. 

How I ended up on the path is this.  We have a holiday here called Sweetest Day.  It's basically a second Valentine's Day that Hallmark made up to sell cards in thier off season between the summer wedding season and the winter holidays.  I had never heard of it growing up on the east coast where it didn't catch on, and my freinds in Jersey still tell me they've only ever heard about it from me when I ask outta curiousity.  So I watched people scrabble about to make it a 'perfect holiday' for their so's like they do in feb for Valentine's day, and it was a revelation.  Holidays are just social made up things, and I had the choice to participate or not.  (Once someone wrote down the name of the holiday for me and I understood it, I kept makeing swedish meatballs because I thought they were saying Swedish Day and I Thought it was some heritage celebration locally like the German Festival they do annually in Toledo with all the food, not just beer).  And I didn't feel left out, or alone on years I didn't have either a boyfriend or girlfriend at the time. And that made me stop and look at the other holidays, and realize...they're the same.  So now Christmas isn't a huge deal other than having a bit of fun looking at all the bling all around town and a nice family dinner with gifts.  And if the gifts and family dinner went away, no big deal.  Because I spent years working out my internal feelings vs. the cultural ones I was taught and get externally reinforced.  It was...freeing. 

What other paths have you guys taken?  I'm curious what my other options were aside from Monica's excellent suggestions and the one I took. 

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I’m 61, post twenties I lived with someone in a relationship and in marriage for a total of 30 years with twenty years in marriage. From there I dated for 15 years then stopped any long-term relationship for the past three years starting one year before my surgery. It was difficult for one year prior to surgery because I was in limbo per-say. The years since surgery I’ve dated a lot but have not found anyone I desire to be with in a long-term relationship yet happy 95 percent of the time.

There is a good deal to be said for short term relationships (for me) and they suit me for the most part as my gender conflicts never fully allowed me to be perfectly happy which if (and have no clue) I had been cisgender without gender conflicts I may very well had been content but will never know.

Thinking of the future I can see myself in a relationship with a partner but if I wait too long seeking a long-term relationship would be more of a long-term friendship.

What suits me in either one a long-term relationship or a long-term friendship but more likely will be a long-term friendship as the female side of my family tend to outlive others close to them. My mother is 95 who for the most part has no friends because there is nobody in her area at her age that are ambulatory. My grandmother and great grand mother lived close to ninety. All three in their later years only had family, all friends long dead.

I’m sure my genes are the same as them. When I tell people my age they will say I appear to be in my early fifties. Now, no signs of slowing down.

The way I see things is humans were meant to be together for the most part but sadly not everyone will find a true partner, that is a rare and precious thing.

Monica, what I get from your post is you have placed everything in perspective where there are no surprises. Sounds like the main obstacle is financing which at this stage of life is a huge barrier that is hard to overcome and sorry to hear this. Your finance barrier is no different from by gender issues.

Anyways that is my input, it is what it is.



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