Your holiday survival guide

I do this every year. Literally every year, and I’m totally okay with that. I do this because not everyone reads the massive backlog of blog posts that four years creates. I do this because we have a lot of new readers this year. (And I love you all). I do this because everyone needs to hear this and I do this because I need a yearly reminder too.

The holidays are awesome fun-filled events that can remind us of our childhood and gives us time to spend with our families. It’s a necessary and much-loved break.

It’s also a huge ass money pit, emotionally devastating and a time when many of us have to deal with relatives we don’t like. It’s full of obligations to people we don’t care about. It brings up loneliness, bad memories, and dark, dark feels.

For someone like me, who suffers from seasonal stuff as it is and recently went through a serious family upheaval, the holidays can be the emotional equivalent of rubbing your face on a cheese grater.

I want to love the holidays. And I want to help you love the holidays too. Here are four hard and fast rules I have set in place over the years to help me not only survive the holidays but to enjoy them.

Don’t do anything for the holidays that you don’t like.

Let me teach you my favorite word for the holidays, ‘no’. No to anything that doesn’t bring you joy. No to anything that doesn’t fit into your schedule. No to anyone who doesn’t respect your needs.

I love no, it’s a complete sentence all by itself. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone. If you don’t want to do the cookie exchange, write Christmas cards, host a potluck, watch A Christmas Story for the 157th damn time, then respectfully and lovingly say no. This leaves time available for all the great holiday things that you want to do.

Make allowances for your family.

There is an addendum to this, of course. Your direct family gets to ask to do things that you want to say no to, and sometimes you have to say yes. But not always! Yes, we’ll watch this Christmas movie that you love, but please watch that one while I’m doing something else. Yes, your mom can come to Thanksgiving, but not your uncle because he’s racist every year. If you want to see him, please take him out to lunch. Okay, we can do Christmas Eve breakfast with your parents, but I want to have brunch on Boxing Day.

Make time for you to do non-holiday stuff too.

For me, this means writing and reading on basically my normal schedule. But Nicole, you might say, aren’t the holidays a time for family? Why are you working on your writing through them?

Well, because writing isn’t a job for me, it’s my art. It’s how I express a well of deep and humongous emotions and exorcize my demons. And I really freaking need that escapes hatch in the holidays, more than any other time of year. I also need to spend time reading, just as much now as I do in July. Don’t put away the things that you love just because you think you’re too busy. Make time to take care of yourself.

Start planning right now.

Today is November ninth. We’re two weeks away from Thanksgiving. Do you know what you’re doing? I’ve known since October 30th. I’ve been working on Christmas presents, ordering, and planning since the 15th of October.

Start planning early, so you’re not scrambling in December. Nothing ruins Christmas Eve like running around on last minute errands. Nothing ruins Thanksgiving like finding out you’re missing the necessary can of cranberries.

Sit down today with a cup of something wonderful and make a list of everything you want to do for the holidays. Gifts you want to buy, treats you want to make, cards you want to send, movies you want to watch, events you want to plan. Now, make a plan either by yourself or with your partner to make these things happen. Be realistic, and accept that you might not have time for everything. (Do we ever have time for everything we want to do with our lives? I don’t.) The important part is that you make a plan.

Most of the people who read my blog are adults. At least I think so, it’s been a while since I’ve done a survey. Shout out in the comments if you’re under 18, that should be fun. But for the rest of us, we have got to remember that we make what we want out of our lives. That doesn’t change when we hang tinsel around the house. If you hang tinsel. I don’t, Harper would eat it. When it comes down to it, the holidays are about love. Love your family, and love yourself.

Twelve little Christmas stories, ranging from heartfelt to horrifying. Meet a young Blue Woodwoman on the streets on Christmas Eve, a woman handing out Christmas cookies, and a little boy getting an unexpected visit from Santa.

Preorder it here now

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