9 ways to survive the holidays.

Originally posted on 12/12/15

holiday-stress-2011

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season is officially here. That means crowded stores, grumpy drivers clogging the roads on their way to and from said stores, horrible office Christmas parties, commercials showing perfect happy families living in big houses with tons of relatives all appearing to love each other (are they TRYING to make us jealous?), fake cheerfulness, fake sleigh bells (did anyone ever REALLY go on a sleigh ride?), horrible canned Christmas music you cannot escape from, “Jingle Bell Rock” (quite possibly the most annoying Christmas song ever) playing endlessly on every pop music station, and maybe worst of all, the shortest days of the year. It’s dark in the morning when you get up for work, and it’s dark again at 5 PM when you get off.

All this is enough to make you want to shoot yourself in the head. But don’t do that!  There are better ways to deal with this often infuriating and, for many, depressing time of year. And remember, it’s only for a month.

Many of us who were raised in narcissistic or dysfunctional families don’t have good associations with Christmas and the holidays in general. On top of this, Christmas has become over-commercialized and even people from normal, happy families get stressed. Everywhere you go, there are messages telling you to be cheerful and “jolly” and ads telling you to buy, buy, and buy some more. People who don’t have families (or have dysfunctional families) or don’t have a lot of money often feel marginalized, as if they’re defective because they can’t fully participate in all the hoopla or be as happy as the wealthy, perfect (and annoying) people they see in TV commercials. The days are also short and gloomy. No wonder depression is so common this time of year.

Even if you dread the holidays, it’s still possible to enjoy them. I used to stress myself into a frenzy every Christmas. When you have small children, it’s easy to do this if money is tight, which it almost always was for us. After all, children are expecting Santa to come with his bag of gifts, and they will not understand if gifts are few. But kids being around also make Christmas fun. Now that my kids are adults, I’ve learned to not stress so much about Christmas. It’s still not my favorite time of year, but here are some ways you can make the most of it. Even though I still dread the holidays, I almost always wind up having a great time.

1. Treat Christmas like a second Thanksgiving.

foodquote7

Thanksgiving is probably the least commercialized holiday. In fact, it’s so underrated that now it’s been nearly co-opted by Black Friday, and stores remain open on Thanskgiving so people can get a head start on their Christmas shopping.
On Thanksgiving, the focus is on food, eating, and football. For the past few years, I’ve focused on the food at Christmas rather than the gifts. I give a few inexpensive or homemade gifts, but I spend more of my time and energy on cooking. My spinach-meat lasagna has become a family tradition rather than the usual turkey (I’m usually turkey’d out after a month of eating turkey, turkey soup, and turkey sandwiches) and the lasagna I make has all the Christmas colors too. (I’ll post my recipe later on). Add a salad and some garlic bread and some kind of pie (usually apple for us), and we’re good to go. Everyone’s so busy enjoying the food they barely register the fact the gifts are few.

2. Bake cookies (or other baked goods) and give them as gifts.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on presents. Everyone loves cookies and they can be wrapped in attractive and creative ways and given as gifts. If you’ve baked the cookies yourself, it can be a more thoughtful and personal gift than something you got from the store. If you prefer, bake a pie and wrap it like an Easter basket in red and green cellophane with a bow on top. Even a prettily wrapped basket of fruit can make a thoughtful gift.

3. Give handmade gifts.
I make suncatchers made of bits of glass, stone and small mirrors and they make terrific gifts. I haven’t made any in about a year, but I have several still around that I plan to give as gifts this year. Each one is unique and everyone appreciates them. Years ago, when I had a kiln, I used to paint ceramic tiles. People loved those too. If you paint, make jewelry, knit, or do any other kind of arts and crafts, think about making your gifts instead of buying them. People will appreciate the time and effort that went into making such a personal and unique gift.

4. Remember that the days are now becoming longer.

WinterSolsticeHappy

If you’re like me (I suffer from SAD), the short days of this time of year can get you down. But there’s an upside too. Starting the first day of winter, the days start growing longer! Christmas was originally a pagan holiday to celebrate the “return of the sun”–the winter solstice. Remind yourself of the lengthening days and try not to think about the cold months ahead.   As of the first day of Winter, there are ONLY THREE MORE MONTHS UNTIL SPRING!   That’s great news for SAD sufferers like me!

5. Do something special for yourself.
If you’re not blessed with a big, boisterous family–or even if you have no one to spend Christmas with, you can still enjoy the day. Make it special: give (or make) yourself a gift, go to a movie, take a long walk, or a long luxurious bath. Also, you can remind yourself that sometimes big family get-togethers can turn into unpleasant drama fests. Remind yourself that you’re spared from that.

6. Volunteer.

volunteer

Most churches sponsor Christmas dinners. Other organizations do too. If you don’t have a family to spend the day with, or you have negative memories associated with this time of year, consider donating your time to preparing or serving food to take your mind off your woes. You might even meet others in the same boat and wind up making new friends and having a great time.

7. It’s only one day.
Even though the Christmas season can seem endless, it’s all leading up to one day, and then it’s all over for another whole year.

8. Skip Christmas this year.
I’m serious. If Christmas really stresses you out, consider skipping it altogether. Explain to your friends and family that you need a break from the stress and assure them it’s nothing personal. If they’re true friends they will understand. If you’re a Christian, you will not offend Jesus if you skip Christmas. The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to celebrate his birthday.

9. Remember what Christmas is really all about.

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

In spite of what all the commercials tell us, Christmas isn’t about the trees, Santa Claus, reindeer and gifts. It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ. Most churches have some sort of Christmas service. Consider attending and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas instead of all the material trappings. Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” always a treat for me.

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9 ways to survive the holidays.

holiday-stress-2011

Many of us who were raised in narcissistic families or come from abusive backgrounds don’t have good associations with Christmas and the holidays in general. On top of this, Christmas has become overcommercialized and even people from normal, happy families get stressed. Everywhere you go, there are messages telling you to be cheerful and “jolly” and ads telling you to buy, buy, and buy some more. People who don’t have families (or have dysfunctional families) or don’t have a lot of money often feel marginalized, as if they’re defective because they can’t fully participate in all the hoopla or be as happy as the wealthy, perfect (and annoying) people they see in TV commercials. The days are also short and gloomy. No wonder depression is so common this time of year.

Even if you dread the holidays, it’s still possible to enjoy them. I used to stress myself into a frenzy every Christmas. When you have small children, it’s easy to do this if money is tight, which it almost always was for us. After all, children are expecting Santa to come with his bag of gifts, and they will not understand if gifts are few. But kids being around also make Christmas fun. Now that my kids are adults, I’ve learned to not stress so much about Christmas. It’s still not my favorite time of year, but here are some ways you can make the most of it. Even though I still dread the holidays, I almost always wind up having a great time.

1. Treat Christmas like a second Thanksgiving.

foodquote7

Thanksgiving is probably the least commercialized holiday. In fact, it’s so underrated that now it’s been nearly co-opted by Black Friday, and stores remain open on Thanskgiving so people can get a head start on their Christmas shopping.
On Thanksgiving, the focus is on food, eating, and football. For the past few years, I’ve focused on the food at Christmas rather than the gifts. I give a few inexpensive or homemade gifts, but I spend more of my time and energy on cooking. My spinach-meat lasagna has become a family tradition rather than the usual turkey (I’m usually turkey’d out after a month of eating turkey, turkey soup, and turkey sandwiches) and the lasagna I make has all the Christmas colors too. (I’ll post my recipe later on). Add a salad and some garlic bread and some kind of pie (usually apple for us), and we’re good to go. Everyone’s so busy enjoying the food they barely register the fact the gifts are few.

2. Bake cookies (or other baked goods) and give them as gifts.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on presents. Everyone loves cookies and they can be wrapped in attractive and creative ways and given as gifts. If you’ve baked the cookies yourself, it can be a more thoughtful and personal gift than something you got from the store. If you prefer, bake a pie and wrap it like an Easter basket in red and green cellophane with a bow on top. Even a prettily wrapped basket of fruit can make a thoughtful gift.

3. Give handmade gifts.
I make suncatchers made of bits of glass, stone and small mirrors and they make terrific gifts. I haven’t made any in about a year, but I have several still around that I plan to give as gifts this year. Each one is unique and everyone appreciates them. Years ago, when I had a kiln, I used to paint ceramic tiles. People loved those too. If you paint, make jewelry, knit, or do any other kind of arts and crafts, think about making your gifts instead of buying them. People will appreciate the time and effort that went into making such a personal and unique gift.

4. Remember that the days are now becoming longer.

WinterSolsticeHappy

If you’re like me (I suffer from SAD), the short days of this time of year can get you down. But there’s an upside too. Starting the first day of winter, the days start growing longer! Christmas was originally a pagan holiday to celebrate the “return of the sun”–the winter solstice. Remind yourself of the lengthening days and try not to think about the cold months ahead.

5. Do something special for yourself.
If you’re not blessed with a big, boisterous family–or even if you have no one to spend Christmas with, you can still enjoy the day. Make it special: give (or make) yourself a gift, go to a movie, take a long walk, or a long luxurious bath. Also, you can remind yourself that sometimes big family get-togethers can turn into unpleasant drama fests. Remind yourself that you’re spared from that.

6. Volunteer.

volunteer

Most churches sponsor Christmas dinners. Other organizations do too. If you don’t have a family to spend the day with, or you have negative memories associated with this time of year, consider donating your time to preparing or serving food to take your mind off your woes. You might even meet others in the same boat and wind up making new friends and having a great time.

7. It’s only one day.
Even though the Christmas season can seem endless, it’s all leading up to one day, and then it’s all over for another whole year.

8. Skip Christmas this year.
I’m serious. If Christmas really stresses you out, consider skipping it altogether. Explain to your friends and family that you need a break from the stress and assure them it’s nothing personal. If they’re true friends they will understand. If you’re a Christian, you will not offend Jesus if you skip Christmas. The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to celebrate his birthday.

9. Remember what Christmas is really all about.

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

In spite of what all the commercials tell us, Christmas isn’t about the trees, Santa Claus, reindeer and gifts. It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ. Most churches have some sort of Christmas service. Consider attending and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas instead of all the material trappings. Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” always a treat for me.

The “War on Christmas”? Bah humbug.

Since this very topic came up in the comments under my last article (the one about the Illuminati), I decided to repost this essay I wrote last year that expresses my sentiments about this issue. In spite of my being closer to Christ than I was a year ago, my opinions on this matter have not changed much.  (The original essay appears at the bottom of this article.)

I’d like to add my latest 2 cents about the so-called “war on Christmas”–the whole dumbfck Starbucks coffee cup drama.  I think it’s a delusion fed to us through (possibly) illuminati-run organizations like Faux News. Christmas, if anything, is more commercialized than ever because it’s become a way for big business to rake in the big bucks every year. It starts with Black Friday and everywhere you turn, it’s “buy buy buy, spend spend spend, smile smile smile”! It’s become a holiday of greed and fake cheer and it makes those who can’t afford much and/or don’t have families to spend Christmas with feel like crap. And that’s their intention–to emphasize the huge gap between the rich and the poor–and of course to make more money. I don’t make a big deal about Christmas anymore because it causes me too much stress. I treat it like Thanksgiving and focus on the food rather than the gifts, and I don’t decorate much. Thankfully this year my daughter is doing Christmas at her house. She gets a lot more into it than I do. Anyway, my point is, the whole Starbucks coffee cup thing is stupid. I mean, come on, if you really want a Christmas tree you can draw one on your cup. Maybe they should provide markers with the cups. I think they did that because they know many Jews and other non-Christians buy their products too so they just colored the cups red for the holidays. It’s no different than Christmas cards saying “seasons greetings” so non-Christians won’t be offended. And that’s nothing new, there were cards like that for as long as Christmas cards have been made but no one used to complain about it. People getting their panties in a bunch over Starbucks think it’s something new and there’s a war on Christmas because Fox News tells them there is. December 25th was originally a pagan holiday anyway. If there is a war on Christmas then it’s the fact that most people don’t remember it’s a solemn holiday to remember Christ’s birth, not a commercial free for all to make big business even richer.

Now, don’t think I’m completely down on Christmas. I want to end this article on a positive note. I stress a lot less about Christmas than I used to. My children both understand that I simply am not going to make a big deal over it the way I used to.  I’m going to bring a few inexpensive gifts and bake my traditional spinach and meat lasagna (Christmas colors in that, and no I am not Italian but I should be!)

I heard something interesting in church today. Our priest was addressing the issues of financial and emotional stress during the holidays, with many people feeling very alone. He said that at those times we begin to feel inadequate or alone, we should remember what Christmas is really all about and know that Jesus loves us no matter how poor, lonely or dejected we feel. And celebrate the coming of the Lord, who can deliver us from those negative thoughts and feelings. The trapping don’t matter, only our relationship with God does.

I felt lighthearted when I left church and felt inspired to do my little bit of Christmas shopping, with the $109 I just got from WordPress for the past 3 months of blogging.   It’s nice to know I can do fun things like buy a few nice gifts with money I got doing something I love.   I came home and put put up my tiny fiber optic table top tree that took about 5 minutes, and it looks just right in my postage stamp living room!  Suddenly I feel much more in the holiday spirit. So I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, and that’s ready enough.

christmas_2015

 

Lucky Otters Haven

waronchristmas

Certain Christians who celebrate Christmas (not all Christians do) have lately been bellyaching via blogs, bumper stickers, and various memes that there is a “war on Christmas” going on. Even some conservative Christian politicians have been bloviating about this alleged “war on Christmas.” Where are the tiny violins?

I find it all a bit mystifying because if anything Christmas is more in your face today than it ever was before. The holiday season used to start the day after Thanksgiving; now it starts the day after Halloween, and even Thanksgiving has been insidiously taken over by a day celebrating the spirit of greed called “Black Friday”–which now has edged into “Black Thursday,” meaning many stores are now open on Thanksgiving so people can stock up on cheap TVs and other appliances to give their holiday shopping a head start.

You can’t get away from Christmas. Everywhere you turn, it’s…

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Surviving the holidays

Ugh. It seems to be that time again. Now that Halloween’s over, all the Christmas decorations are going up. Annoying Christmas carols being blasted in all the stores. Even more annoying office Christmas parties and fakey-cheerful people wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers. Please. Bah humbug.

What happened to Thanksgiving? Does anyone care about it anymore? Oh, that’s right–everyone’s rushing out after eating to be the first in line at the stores for Black Friday deals. 🙄
Anyway, I wrote this last year but I thought it was time to post it again.

Lucky Otters Haven

charliebrown

I relate to Charlie Brown. As a kid, “Peanuts” was my favorite comic strip (I owned all the Peanuts books too), and Charlie Brown was a lot like me–fearful of what others thought of him, frequently bullied and taken advantage of, and often pessimistic. But he also had a good heart, and his faithful dog Snoopy brought joy to his life when he was ready to give up. So I have used some photos from the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in my post.

The holidays are a rough time for many people, but they are especially hard on those of us who have been victims of narcissistic abuse and been cut off (or have gone No Contact) with our families. It sure doesn’t help either that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and become very depressed during the shortest and coldest days of the year.

I have described the…

View original post 1,222 more words