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Your Family Cannot Force You to Celebrate Christmas

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If you come from a family of narcissists or have otherwise toxic family members, the guilt trips start early. Probably right after Halloween. At least that's how it was with my mother. She liked to make plans right away, or maybe, she thought if she had more time she could gradually wear me down so I would say yes to her distasteful invitations just to get her to shut up about it.

Whatever the case may be for you, remember this one thing: Your family cannot force you to celebrate Christmas.

As a child or teen, your family was still in control of your life. You had to do what your parents told you to, because you still lived under their roof. But as an adult, you have personal agency, you have options, and no one else gets to tell you how to live your life.

Also remember: "No." Is a complete sentence.

I know all too well that, When You were Abused as a Child, Holidays can be Triggering. Through years of therapy, I also learned that Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holiday Season needs to be your top priority.

If holiday get-togethers with your family are too upsetting to handle, you don't have to go out of a sense of obligation. A real loving, caring family would never make you feel obligated to do something you didn't want to do. Having a sense that you have to do something out of a sense of obligation alone is a sign that it is something that isn't serving you.

Alternatives to Celebrating Christmas

When you decide to opt out of celebrating Christmas with your family, there are all sorts of other things you can do instead. These alternatives can vary from the mundane to the outrageous. It all depends on you, your lifestyle, and if you are getting paid time off of work over the holidays.

For years, I worked for hotels. They are open 24/7/365 so that means someone is going to end up working on Christmas. In many workplaces you also get paid extra holiday pay. So, if you are in an industry where you can work over the holidays, it is easy just to do that. Not only are you saving the cash you would have spent on gifts, you get to make some extra cash too. That way, you can go into the New Year without having all your credit cards maxed out!

If you aren't Christian, it's even easier to opt out of Christmas. It isn't your religion. It isn't your holiday. Simple as that. It just becomes some random day for you. Did you know that in the US, Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas Day? It's because Christmas isn't a Chinese holiday.

You can become a Jehovah Witness. They don't celebrate any holidays. In fact, they think celebrating holidays is a sin. If you convert, you have a free pass to avoid all family holidays... forever.

You can also become a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh (or basically any other religion) because none of them celebrate Christmas either.

If you convert to Paganism or Wicca, you can celebrate Yule instead, and add naked, drunken carousing to your traditions in honor of the Romans who used to run through the streets doing exactly that for 12 days!

However, if you are a Christian, you still have an out when it comes to your faith. There are several Christian denominations, besides the Jehovah Witnesses, that don't celebrate Christmas either. They cite the pagan underpinnings of the holiday, and the fact that the Bible doesn't say that Jesus was born in December, and was most likely born in the summer.

If none of these options appeal to you, you can go away for a vacation over the Christmas holidays. Since many workplaces will give you the time off from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day, this will give you a nice one-week vacation to a destination of your choice.

Seven Corners provides a great list of the Best Travel Destinations to Avoid the Christmas Rush. The list even includes countries that don't celebrate Christmas, so that you won't feel obligated to do so either. You can just relax, kick back, and enjoy a great vacation!

If you aren't ready to celebrate

That's perfectly OK too! Remember, your mental health always comes first! I personally spent at least five different Christmases sitting home alone on my couch in my pajamas while the rest of the family was celebrating. I was just celebrating the fact that I had learned to put my foot down and say no.

You don't have to do anything that you don't want to do, or that doesn't resonate with where you are in your healing journey!

Think about all those projects that you keep putting off for "when you have time" and tackle some of those. Reorganize your shoe closet. Detail your car. Clean out the junk drawer, or file all of your electric bills.

You can enjoy doing nothing all day, lying on the couch in your PJ's, eating frozen pizza's and binging your favorite show on Netflix. There is no wrong way to take back your holidays for yourself.

Celebrate with other people

If you love celebrating Christmas - just not with your family - then you can do that too! Get together with some friends, or do something small with your partner and your kids.

Personally, I finally got into celebrating Christmas when I had a new partner come into my life who loved Christmas. I was able to see Christmas through his eyes, and find joy in a season that in the past had only held pain, or at best ambivalence.

This is a season that is supposed to be filled with peace, hope and joy. If you can find that inside yourself any day of the year, don't spend Christmas surrounded by people who destroy your peace. You deserve better.


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