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.