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  • Midtown Mediation

The Holidays – they are not always “Happy”

We say it without thinking: “happy holidays!”, or maybe you have thought about it and intentionally use the more acceptable term of “Holiday” to be more inclusive. Either way, it’s not always a happy time for a lot of people.

I saw a post recently where the author said that they choose to wish people a “Peaceful Holiday” instead of a happy one for that exact reason (and I have to admit, I have since stolen this!)

There are myriad reasons why the holidays are not always happy, and so I’ve compiled a list to help those that are newly divorced or separated, that are spending the holidays alone, that have complicated histories with their families of origin, or that are spending the holidays without their kids.

1. Say no! We’ve been taught that busy is better, but guess what? It’s not! Sometimes saying no to a party and staying in is actually more nourishing to our bodies and souls. What’s worse, if you say yes when you mean no, you are not only being disingenuous, but you are likely to become resentful, unhappy, and angry – which serves no one!

2. Ask for help! You can’t be chef, gift wrapper, Santa, bartender, cleaner, dishwasher, DJ, pastry chef and still enjoy yourself…and guess what? SPOILER ALERT! The holidays are for you to enjoy as well!! Controversial, I know ;) I suggest a pot-luck style meal or turn dessert into a baking party where all hands are on deck and it ends up being a kitchen party (and yes, that includes men and boys!! For the love of Pete, include the boys!! Let’s teach them a different way – domesticity is not only for one gender). Opt for a secret-santa style gift exchange to lessen the burden (both time and cost) of shopping this time of year. Ask guests to chip in for a cleaner or dish rentals if you’re hosting – you’d be surprised with how keen folks are to jump in on this idea! We did this one year and it really changed the tone of the whole event. Alternatively, if that the cost of that is cumbersome, choose an “I cook, you clean” approach to hosting so that you’re not in the kitchen the whole time missing out on the party.

3. Set boundaries! For me, I insist that everyone support my food positive home. We don’t talk about dieting, body shape/size, having “cheat” days etc., we nourish our bodies and enjoy food and company and I am firm that that is a boundary I am not willing to budge on. Whatever your boundaries are, they are cool as long as they are relayed in a respectful manner. Be firm, but be kind.

4. Make a plan! The holidays can be lovely, but they can also be a lot. If this is a tough year because of co-parenting, in-laws or your family of origin, set yourself up for success with a well thought out (and HONEST!) plan. Don’t kid yourself by thinking it will “be fine”. It likely won’t, and heck if it is, what a lovely surprise that will be. For example, if you know you have a difficult meal or visit coming up, schedule in some down time to recover. If you know you have to be alone for the holiday, invite someone over or plan for a festive movie or walk – or if embracing the festivity is too much, choose a Netflix show you’ve been meaning to binge, order in food and do a bunch of non-festive activities. If you won’t have your kids, plan another day to celebrate and make memories – the calendar doesn’t have to dictate when we have fun and start new traditions.

5. Don’t overindulge! Food and booze are classics around this time of year, but if you’re alone or struggling, they are a slippery slope and can leave you feeling worse than before. By no means am I shaming, I love to celebrate the season with all things chocolate, eggnog and spiced rum, just be mindful of your choices.

I hope these tips help you and I wish you a Peaceful Holiday.



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