Let's face it — adulting through life means the holiday season comes with its own set of challenges, especially as family dynamics shift.
Over the years, my relationship with what I affectionately call “the holidaze” gets more and more... complicated.
Juggling the shuffle of family members moving out or away (and sometimes back again), taking care of unwell parents, grieving a loss, and attempting to mend relationships (or not) — it's like the holiday season has transformed into this intricate dance, you know?"
And let's not even get started on politics and the news — I'm just trying to figure out where to put my left foot and keep my holiday spirit intact. How about you?
For me, now that my kids are in their late teens and the “magic” is gone I have no idea what to get them and would rather do a beach getaway. But I am looking forward to having my son home.
I feel freer in it all and am enjoying the simplicity. Haven't even started thinking about Christmas yet and that's fine. Have told my 3 (early 20s) kids that money is super-tight this year so they will just get a little something for Christmas and that's that, and they were cool with that! I'm sure I will be frazzled in a few weeks but I am welcoming less pressure right now!
Normally I am all in for Christmas, but this year I am finding it hard to get excited about all the things. Kids are teens, so gifting feels more of the same “get me what I want, Mom” as all the other days of the year! One thing I am doing is going to a beloved holiday theater performance by myself. I am going to go, have a great time, and not be bothered by anyone else’s emotions or needs!
The holidays always feel empty and I look forward to them being over and on with the next year. They are lonlier than full of ho ho ho fun.
I bought an artificial Christmas tree this year. I’ve always been pro-real tree, but it has felt like too much work and too much pressure at an already hectic time. I keep joking around that this feels like one of the most middle-aged decisions I’ve ever made, but I’m leaning into, allowing myself this gift of ease.
So, because of my whole nearly decapitating myself on a conference call last week (which is why I didn't do the virtual pop-in at the 10-year celebration--so bummed to have missed) I'm not allowed to talk or move too much until the New Year--i.e., my jaw is wired shut and I have all these crazy Frankenstein neck sutures. Now that I'm over the initial claustrophobia, I realized... Hey, I don't have to answer to anybody, I'm completely absolved of all forced holiday cheeriness... I can just do this 🤷♀️ and shuffle off to Buffalo, lol. I would like to squeeze my daughters more, but realize this is probably annoying to them. 😂
I went through a lot of bleakly despairing holiday seasons during the long years I was trying (and failing) to get pregnant. As I grieved that, I started to question what I really valued about the holidays, what traditions mattered to me and why, and how to cultivate joy and connections that resonate with me and my loved ones, even if our celebrations and practices don't look like what I wanted (and what society tells me they should look like).
Being adaptable, open, and generous in my approach to holidays has served me well in the years since I came to understand I'd never have kids of my own. There have often been years where there's been a fresh or catastrophic loss -- there was that first, isolated covid winter, and then the next two holiday seasons that ended up being disrupted by loved ones getting infected right before the holiday -- and just knowing that the holidays are what we make of them in the face of whatever our reality is right now has helped a lot. And it helps me now.
This is kind of a cliché, but... for me, it boils down to joy, and connection. No matter who's there, who isn't there, how much money there is or isn't, whatever else is going on in my household or extended family circle or the world, I can cultivate and celebrate connections and closeness, and I can welcome and nourish joy for myself and my loved ones. It doesn't have to be "traditional," or what we've always done before, or what I thought I'd be doing if I'd been able to have kids, or expensive, or big.
Comfort and joy. Connection and love. Even in the midst of despair, we can cultivate these things, for ourselves, for our loved ones. And I hope that everyone weighing in here, who is facing a holiday season that's overwhelming, or underwhelming, or overshadowed by loss or distress, can have that. <3
After my husband took down all the X-mas decorations from the attic and I went through everything, I realized so much of it was from when the kids were small and now they’ve outgrown it. (One is in college and the other is in high school.) It was bittersweet looking through all of it, but I am grateful that those days are behind us as well. There was too much stress trying to make the holiday “special” for the little ones. Now I can relax a little.