Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This Holiday Season - Don't Be Afraid to Skip Out

With the holidays coming up, there's a lot of commercials, posts and talk about family.  This is unavoidable as it seems to be part of the season as a whole, but sadly not everyone has a chance to take part in that part of the holiday.  So the point of this post?  That's ok.

Speaking as a queer, non-christian woman in an interracial relationship, there's a lot of variety in my life that my family doesn't seem to understand.  This has become abundantly clear in the recent political climate and while it's not a matter of all out hate (it could be a lot worse and it has been in the past), there are just some things that I'm tired of explaining to them or can't even begin to explain in a way they'll understand.  So we've opted to skip my large family Thanksgiving and may or may not be following suit with Christmas - we'll see.

But the heart of the matter, and what I really want to talk about, is the hurt that comes with that.  It's really hard for me to not go to family gatherings, because it's just something I was raised doing. There's this dull shame in the pit of my stomach when I consider the idea and agree to it, because the voice in the back of my head says "But I'm supposed to" regardless of my own personal disagreements with my family.  I also know my partner has a large family who is either out of state, out of reach or just plain not a part of her life.  Situations like this lead to both of us feeling lonely, homesick and just all around left out when those required commercials and posts come up about family cheer and gatherings.

The point of this post, and me writing this, is to say that shame is wrong.  With this post I am telling myself that it's ok to skip out and if you find yourself in a similar situation this applies to you too.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to take care of yourself during the holidays and avoid situations that can become less then pleasant.  Family is family and they either will or won't agree with you and your life, but if you need to take yourself out of the situation to take care of yourself, that's perfectly ok.  There's a whole host of reasons why people might need or choose to do this and in the end only they can decide for themselves and when they do, it's ok.  Don't shame them for it.  And especially, don't shame yourself.

On our part, we're still celebrating and cooking for ourselves.  She's making dinner while I'm at work on Thanksgiving and we're getting together with a friend on Sunday who is also choosing to avoid their family gathering. I've heard other friends refer to it as 'Friendsgiving' which is just as legitimate. In the end, this holiday season is about celebrating the year and what you have.  And if you find, like us, that 2016 has been a bit much to deal with, then yes you should take a day or two off.

It doesn't mean that you love your family any less.  It doesn't make you any less of a person.  It means you're realistic and realize that above anything else you have to take care of yourself, because family and friends come and go, but you will always be stuck with yourself.  If you are trapped, then life can be miserable, even when surrounded by supposed holiday cheer. So it's ok.

No guilt.  No shame.  Take care of yourself these last couple months.  And here's to hoping that next year will be better. Or, at the very least, a little more tolerable.

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