Remove Holiday Stress by Removing Toxic People
No one is going to send you to jail for not inviting your racist uncle to dinner
The season is upon us again.
Now is the time of year when you’ll be bombarded with countless articles offering advice on how to deal with unpleasant relatives at Thanksgiving and Christmas. How to keep the peace between MAGA-hat wearing uncle Roy and vegan cousin Andrew. How to avoid all-out war over deep-frying the turkey or going traditional roasted with stuffing. And exactly how much gin it takes to muffle the worst of the impeachment debate.
This is not necessarily one of those articles.
I’m here to tell you that the way to have a pleasant and calm holiday season is not to try and accommodate the toxic relatives and friends of friends who darken your doorstep each year.
Peace on Earth isn’t just for other people. It’s for you as well.
To be honest, it’s been a rough time for everyone for a while now. Many of you have likely either cut off the toxic people in your life or have at least agreed not to interact for the next few years. If so, you have the right idea.
Do you want peace in the family? Let both sides withdraw. Yes, it means allowing that folks are going to be insulated inside their own bubble for the next month or so. They’ll be experiencing their own echo chamber. There will be no exchange of ideas or perspectives in a thoughtful, loving manner.
But how likely would that have been, anyway?
Just free yourself of the grief.
What to do instead? Say you love hosting a big family-style dinner around this time of year. Who is going to enjoy your signature fried sweet potatoes now?
Family is much more than blood. It’s a sense of community—a supportive community.
You have friends who are in a similar predicament as you. Friends who would much rather enjoy a nice, festive meal, giving thanks, celebrating peace on Earth, and so forth with like-minded, like-hearted souls. Go ahead and invite them to dinner.
Make a point of saying how this is about more than just blood family, but of the kinship we feel with our fellow men and women during these trying times. I think you’ll find many people receptive to this sort of thing.
And if you’re not the sort to host, see if there aren’t some in your friends’ circle who are, at least, receptive to the idea of a safe-space Thanksgiving or Christmas and see if one of them would like to host while everyone else potlucks a dish or two.
Consider, also, that there are many folks who often find themselves at a loss during the holidays. They are far from their families for whatever reason, and at loose ends during this season. Find a way to include them. If you’ve college students in your social group or have kids who are college students, they probably know one or two of their fellow students who don’t have a place to go for the holidays.
It’s all about building a holiday gathering that’s ideal for you, not being forced into a holiday gathering that is going to stress you out.
You don’t have to apologize for engaging in self-care. Tell racist aunt Trudy that you can’t make it this year. She’ll get over it. And if she doesn’t… who cares? She’s a racist. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
You’re having a much better time with your friends and the family you’ve more in common with because it was your choice. Not your obligation.
Happy holiday season to you all.