Humans logo

It’s Time To Rethink the Way We “Celebrate” the Holidays

I will know I have arrived when I am laying on a beach during the Christmas Holidays sucking down a virgin pina colada.

By Melissa SteussyPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 7 min read
It’s Time To Rethink the Way We “Celebrate” the Holidays
Photo by Алсу Вершинина on Unsplash

For many, the Holidays are a time of overindulgence in drinking, eating, and spending. We feel like we are on vacation and in a way we are. We are distracted temporarily from the reality of our situation and made to feel like this is the time of year we have been waiting for. There are gingerbread men and gumdrops, candy canes, and the infamous Santa Clause. It can be a magical time of year for many, especially children, but it can be a time of burying deep hurts, seeing family we would rather not, remembering estranged or family members that have passed. Sometimes the grief outweighs the joy we “should” be feeling.

There can be tension around finances, debting, gluttony, and feelings of inferiority when we can’t do what we see others doing. There is stress when we don’t know if we can meet our children’s wild expectations and disappointment when no one can meet ours.

There is always a lull in the room after someone opens a gift. We are wondering, do they like it? As gift openers we have the familiar high pitched, “ooh, I love it, thank you!!”

Guess what? I don’t love it. I never would have picked this out for myself and it doesn’t fit me at all.

Most people buy gifts for others that they like. It is impossible to match another’s tastes perfectly. Gift-giving is hard and unless you make something handmade or an edible treat most times others are not going to like your gift.

It’s the thought that counts is a popular thing we say, but is it? Did you really put much thought into that fruit cake or jacket that was 10X too big?

The Starbucks cards are appreciated, but did you know there is nothing I can eat or drink there?

A book is great, but I can’t stand Mariah Carey and I don’t want to read her memoir.

Most times as adults if we want something we can get it ourselves. It’s so much easier nowadays to find what we want and to send it to the buyer and then we aren’t surprised, but at least it is something we can use and we actually like, want, or need.

I am too old to try to fake it anymore. A kind thought or gesture is amazing, but gifts that aren’t heartfelt feel empty. They feel like just more stuff that I need to take to Goodwill or pawn off on someone else. Do I sound ungrateful? Maybe I am. I am so over the holiday fakeness.

Many years ago, I had an organizer come to my home to help me get rid of things and organize. I could tell I had hoarding tendencies and was inspired by minimalism. Many items that she held up and asked me if I had used them were gifts. I told her, “no, I don’t use it, but it was a gift.” This was over a decade ago, but this nugget of advice has stuck with me-here’s what she said, “A gift is just that. When someone gives something to you, it is now yours. You can choose to do with it whatever you want. You can sell it, re-gift it, donate it or throw it in the trash. It’s yours now.”

Somethings I still hold onto for “emotional value” but mostly if I get something I don’t want, like, or need, I sell it on Poshmark or donate it. I don’t hold onto it for the sake of not hurting that person’s feelings. The gift is no longer theirs, it is mine.

Holidays can evoke hurt feelings when going around in a circle at a family gathering and realizing you are getting much less than others or your gifts seem not as good. Kids can be let down by their wild and crazy expectations about Christmas. Couples can feel pressure to do it right and to be honest after opening gifts even if I got things I like it feels fake and I end up disappointed. I feel like I was in some kind of holiday trance while buying and then the 15 minutes of gift opening ends and we go on about our day with a bunch more stuff and less money in our bank accounts.

Here’s what I’m learning. Stuff doesn’t make me happy. If I’m depressed only connection will help. If I don’t feel a connection during the holidays they feel empty.

Most times I need to ask my husband exactly what he is needing for gifts. A much richer experience might be us going out and trying things on and purchasing them together so he gets what he needs and I’m not trying to be a magician getting everything perfect for him.

The pressure feels immense because I do care. I do want my loved ones to have what they want. But it is so much easier if they can just pick it out themselves. It takes away the magic, but this is where I am leading…

I’m kind of done with it all.

I will know I have arrived when I am laying on a beach during the Christmas Holidays sucking down a virgin pina colada.

It’s not magical anymore. It was fun when my kids were little and the joy in their eyes on Christmas morning was worth it, but now that they are older it feels redundant.

I don’t enjoy being with extended family and I am vegan so don’t enjoy family meals with animals as the centerpiece.

I have opted out of a lot of “traditional Christmas” but I am close to pulling the cord completely. Instead of spending money on gifts, I would like to take a family trip. I live in Minnesota where it is snowy and freezing. A tropical vacation in the middle of winter would feel amazing.

I am setting a plan in motion, but it helps to share out loud. How do I make this actually happen as I talked about it last year, but here I am again?

As adults, we get to do our holidays in a way that makes us feel comfortable and aligns with our values. I am not a Walmart or Black Friday person. I don’t like cheap plastic items that fill up our landfills. I am passionate about things that are cruelty-free and kind to the earth. I like organic, recyclable items and not everyone is going to get that.

I love to travel and I want more of that in my life. Taking a trip with my loved ones would feel amazing. Seeing a new place and going to explore would be an awesome way to spend Christmas.

Helping others in need would be another way to build connections and create more meaning in the season. I have done the thing where you buy a gift for someone less fortunate, but I never get to connect with the person on the other side and it still feels empty. Finding a way to help that is less about buying gifts and more about connecting seems better. I have served meals in the past and that definitely feels more on par with helping people feel loved and cared for.

Delivering food and warmth to the homeless or visiting shelters. These are things that would fill up my heart throughout the holidays and honestly why only on the holidays? What would stop me from helping all year?

This is me brainstorming, but I know I won’t find my joy on Santa’s sleigh and so for me thinking outside of the traditional “box” is going to take some heartfelt redirection. But I think it is worth it. This is my one life and if I spend every holiday season wishing I was somewhere else it’s time to make a change. I have the ability to make that change. Nobody else is going to do that for me.

So, here’s to new traditions in the coming year. If we hate something, but are on auto-pilot let’s take action. We don’t have to do it the way it’s been done before. This is our life. Let’s quit settling for mediocre Holidays!


About the Creator

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.