It’s not lost on most people that the holiday season and all its purported merry-ness actually makes many of us feel some other type of way. So, I’m here to admit that despite my own contribution to Instagram glitter from Christmas happyland, this Christmas actually kinda sucked for me. Sorry, Instagram isn’t real. They lying to you.
First, ‘twas two weeks before Christmas, when I got a pricey ticket for running a red light. Stupid. $490 for the violation itself, $64 to request traffic school, $10 admin fee, $13.95 for online traffic school (with $1 off coupon thanks to my friend Aryun, although it kinda adds insult to injury), and two hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
Then, ‘twas the week before Christmas, when I got dumped. In short, the guy that I was beginning to catch feelings for dipped out. And suffice to say that it wasn’t so much a “we” decision as much as it was a “he” decision followed by a convincing argument. So, what can a girl say besides, “OK, bye.”
And after that, ‘twas the night before Christmas Eve, when my one of my besties, whom I was supposed to spend the holiday with, called to say that she wasn’t going to be around to spend Christmas with me after all. (Not getting into the backstory on that right now.) I was left with too short of a notice to rework plans with other friends – not to mention, a pile of food, drinks, decorations, and gifts that I had gotten for my friend and me. It felt shitty, because it was shitty.
So, here are the tips I followed to make the best of it. I hear that most people will only remember three things, so I’ve kept it to that.
3 Tips For When Christmas Sucks:
1) Don’t say it’s OK when it’s NOT OK. Denying what’s real can lead me to resentment. But I didn’t want to ruin Christmas Day for myself. So, when my friend (who effed up) started blowing up my phone with text message justifications and apologies on Christmas Day, I simply text her back that I was still hurt by her actions, but didn’t want to ruin the day, so we can discuss it after the holidays. Also, I told her that I’m grateful for her friendship regardless. For me, it was important to at least say “ouch” in the moment when I was hurt, if only to let the other person know that what happened was not OK. But it was also important to communicate to my friend that we will talk soon – just not now.
2) It is what it is – nothing more. Life is hard. But the world isn’t conspiring to break me down one Santa visit at a time. I’m no newbie to the whole celebrate-the-holidays-alone thing, since I’ve long been out of touch with my family of origin (I do come from people who are still living, but I just can’t be around them.). Anyway, no matter how many years of practice I’ve had at inviting myself to holiday dinners or manufacturing a “fun” thing to do alone, it still doesn’t ease the anxiety. Sometimes unwanted aloneness is just part of the human experience, and in my human experience, it often comes up during the holidays. All this to say that, when something bad happens to me around this time of year, it’s important for me to keep a balanced perspective and remind myself that these distinct let downs usually have nothing to do with each other – except for the often erroneous connections that I make in my worst moments.
3) Do something about it. Even if “doing something” is deciding to do nothing, I make a choice and own it. For example, I decided that driving over to the ex-guy’s place to say one last thing would be kinda psycho. So, in that instance, I decided to do nothing. Instead, I meditated on my discomfort and let it go. But on Christmas day, I did something. I packed up my car and drove up the California coastline with Malcolm dog, exploring off-leash beaches and taking time to breathe it all in. Literals. I paced myself, took deep breaths, and even dropped down for a quick nap at one point. (I’m running on 40% of my lungs.)
When the holidays start to suck, the most important thing I remind myself is that I’m a grown woman, and I can do something to make my own happiness. Perhaps one day, I’ll have a family of my own to celebrate with and complain about over the holidays. I’d be super excited if that day comes. But until then, I’m not sitting around feeling empty. I mean, it’s just another shitty Christmas – it’s not even another shitty Christmas with cancer tryna kill me.
*Special thanks to Dr. Susana Ming Lowe and my wifey, Crystal Chin (pictured here).