December 14, 2015 by positivelypeachie
Well it’s here, the dreaded and loved holidays. If you’re part of the latter group then I wish you the most lovely of holidays!
If you’re part of the former group – then this post is for you.
I have been part of both. Up until recently, my love of Christmas remained strong. I was able to disconnect from infertility and still enjoy the holidays (with some exceptions…like inappropriate comments at Christmas parties). However, the last two years have not been so enjoyable. The approach of Christmas has brought with it a vice grip on my heart that I can’t seem to shake. I am full of anxiety, and wishing I could just go to sleep and wake up in January. Which is insane because I used to be crazy about Christmas! I am not sure what has caused the transition from Christmas-Lover to Christmas-Dreader…but I fear it’s here to stay, for the time being anyway.
As the vice grip has already started, I’d like to pass on a few ideas that I have learned over the years:
#1) Find new traditions that don’t involve your triggers. If children are your triggers, then find something completely child-free (i.e. a wine and cheese night with child-free, or empty nester friends, go see a Christmas Performance by the local orchestra or actors guild). Lot’s of churches and groups have adult events…find some and attend. Christmas is not just about children, after all. It’s amazing how many child-free things are out there, not to mention people without children looking to make some friends. Most of my friends have small children (and it’s often hard to spend time together), so meeting other couples without small children has really opened up my friend group.
#2) Volunteer. Pick something close to your heart, and dedicate time to it. Hopefully, it will be so enjoyable that you will continue volunteering through the year, too. I volunteer at a local rescue – it’s child free, and something that is very close to my heart. Plus it’s just as fun dressing the pups and kitties up in Christmas gear as it is dressing up kids! A different kind of fun that doesn’t hurt so badly!
#3) Spoil yourself. Pick something you really want – whether it’s a spa day, a quiet evening at home with your spouse or girlfriends, or a day shopping. Enjoy it, and don’t – for one second – let yourself feel inferior because you don’t have children yet. I have a Paint Nite booked tomorrow with four girlfriends (none have small kids at home) for this purpose exactly!
#4) Say no. It’s OK to say no to things that you know will be too hard – even if it might hurt someone. You need to take care of yourself, too. Pick one or two child-centered events, and say no to the rest. You’ll have more strength to handle the ones you agreed too, and it will make the whole season much more bearable. My family is having a gathering and dinner on boxing day this year, which will be completely centred around my nephews (which it should be) but will also be hard for me this year. My parents have also invited us out for Christmas Day as well because my sisters and their kids will stop by. That would be too really hard days together – and I am just not sure I’m up for it. Instead, we decided to have Christmas Day at home with our furbabies and spend boxing day with the bigger family. It’s a compromise that works for both parties – we still get to spend Boxing Day with the family, but we get our own little piece of quiet and peace on Christmas Day too.
#5) This is the most important one: change your thoughts on Christmas. I found that once I opened my eyes to the other things to do around Christmas (i.e.: Holiday Paint Nite, Zoo Lights, Christmas Wine and Cheese Tours, etc.) that didn’t require me to be a parent, I found the holidays seemed a little less dark. I realized that my mind is so hyper-focused on parenting, that I forgot that probably half the population isn’t currently raising small children. And these people: the childless, the childfree, the empty-nesters, the teenage parenters… manage to enjoy the holidays too even though their Christmas Eve/Morning is not dominated by littles in feety pajamas waiting for Santa.
It really is all about perspective, and adjusting your perspective to meet your reality only frees your mind from the shadow of expectation.
What do you do to make the holidays go by faster/pass without too much pain?
I wish you all happy and safe holidays, and if you aren’t able to find a way to happy holidays then I hope it passes quickly and with the least amount of hurt for you.