Saturday, December 14, 2019

Redefining Your Holidays

Hello! I'm here to give you permission to change your traditions, to alter your plans, or to skip the holidays altogether. It's YOUR life and you are the only one living it.

What do you want? What do you need?

Whatever you decide for The Holidays 2019 is not set in stone for the rest of your life.
Every year is different.

I write this because, five years ago when my counselor suggested I skip traveling to see my family for the holidays, nothing else seemed more outrageous or unfathomable. I was in the middle of my first IVF cycle. I was needle-phobic, highly anxious, severely depressed, and taking care of everyone else's feelings except my own. If I just kept up the facade that I Was Okay then Everything Would Be Fine.

So I traveled. I drove five hours (on a particular five-hour drive that I abhor). I traveled with my medicine. I kept it in my sister's fridge. I spent the holidays with my cousin's adorable toddler while she was pregnant with her second and drinking wine. (At the time, nothing angered me more than a pregnant woman having a drink when I was abstaining and I wasn't even pregnant). I left the room while everyone was unwrapping presents to give myself an injection. My other sister walked in on me and it was incredibly awkward for both of us. I forced smiles, held back tears, and tried to come up with things to say in conversation. I loved my family, but I left feeling totally and completely physically exhausted and emotionally depleted.

I went again the following year, but in 2016 I was coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to be a mother in this lifetime. So I skipped the family holiday celebration that year.

And the year after that.

And guess what? Life went on.

My family didn't stop loving me. (It would've been their loss if they had.) The holidays came and went. And I took care of myself. What a concept.

After two years of skipping the holidays with my family, I returned last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I played laser tag with my cousin's two boys. I ate, I drank, I was merry. Nothing was forced and I was genuinely happy.

Sometimes we just need a break. Sometimes we need to reset. Sometimes we need to redefine events for ourselves in order to reclaim them.

Now I have moved far away from my family and, between my two jobs' schedules, I am unable to make the family holiday celebration again. And guess what? Life will go on. I still love my family and they still love me. And I look forward to hopefully celebrating with them again next year.

Please remember that you and your needs are number one. You are not responsible for anyone else's feelings or expectations. You deserve whatever you need to be as healthy as possible. Please take care of yourself this year and every year after that.

( Images from 💜)


  1. Love this so much! You picked awesome graphics, too. It's such an important message to hear, and so hard to execute at the holidays when there is so much family obligation and often so much pain. In the thick of things, we went to Vermont for Christmas to get away, to try to escape a home that didn't yet have the Christmas tableau we do desperately wanted. People were judgy (thankfully not our families), and like HOW COULD YOU GO SOMEWHERE YOU KNOW NO ONE?, but it worked for us. I wish you a very happy holidays in your new life that you have made for yourself.

  2. This is excellent, Phoenix. I am sure it will be helpful to many of your readers.
    I am not celebrating with my family this year either, and I am fine.
    Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2020 to you <3!

  3. Belatedly popping by to say I love this post! I'm so glad your family has been understanding... and as Jess said, I love the graphics, too!

  4. Happy New Year! Enjoyed this thoughtful and insightful post. I’m so sorry, I lost your email...will you send an email again to kristinabridget at hotmail? I would like to ask you a couple questions. Thanks!