The holidays are often painted as a pretty picture by advertisers. Sometimes it feels as if anything less cheerful than smiles etched into the foam from a cup of mint hot chocolate mocha is just being a Scrooge.
Or at least I’ve felt this way before.
The people I call “family” are not always the same people others might call their family. So, what is family anyway?
Our cultural definition of family is learned, and it’s on bright display in mainstream holiday movies like Home Alone, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, and The Christmas Story.
It’s a cast of biological mother, father, and siblings. And typically, the more traditional the sweater set worn, the better. Or it just seems that is the pressure put on us all by society—to be a perfect little family that has their shit together.
And the same goes for the holidays, regardless of the reality of your situation.
In the South, we tend to imagine or expect that our family holidays are just as picture perfect as the media wants or portrays, but the reality is that at times some of our LGBTQIA+ family may feel more like we are on the sinking Titantic watching Jerry Springer, and our families may see us all as the cast of Queer Eye. It just doesn’t seem to always fit, and it makes it that much tougher to be merry.
Others may not have traditional family at all or they might be someone whose family doesn’t accept their sexuality— making them feel more like Jim Carey’s character in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, minus the green face paint but add extra glitter.
Let’s face it: the holidays are wack!
So how do we maintain our sanity and composure during the most wonderful time of the year if we are alone or if we have an unaccepting family?
First, we must remember that whoever we consider family is really up to us individually. There are no absolute rules that someone must be included in your own defined family. It really is your choice.
Second, we should remember that how you spend your holiday is really up to you as well. If traveling back to your hometown stresses you out so much, just do the phone call to them if you need to, instead of a making a journey to hell and back over the holiday work break.
And finally, remember that, most likely, there are other people around you right now that have the same anxiety, dread, or apathy about the holidays, but nobody will know you are alone unless you say it. You can’t expect others to read your mind and know that on Christmas you’ll be alone. You really do need to communicate that with those that you consider to be your family.
Here are a few things that have helped people in one of these situations for this holiday season.
If you are expecting to be alone:
⋅Fix a special meal for yourself or get some special takeout!
⋅Do a special project in your home that will keep you busy —like painting a wall.
⋅Volunteer for the holiday. Nothing will make you feel better than helping others in need on a holiday.
⋅Take some time to Facetime or call those that you consider your family in order to still feel connected and not alone on the day.
If your family is not accepting of you for whatever reason:
⋅Remember that the day is only a day— nobody has to stay overnight anywhere. Make the holiday plan that you choose.
⋅Keep the conversation with your family on non-controversial topics. Politics and religion are obviously a no. Weather and job talk works best. And if you get into a bad conversation, just make a joke about keeping the conversation lite.
⋅And if nothing else works, toss glitter at them and run out the door. That would at least make you laugh as you leave.
Whether you have a traditional family, or something more modern—just remember that holidays are here for you to enjoy the time with those you love and care for, and it’s all about your mindset and your determination to be merry AF.
Happy Holidays and Happy HoliGAYS!
Josh Robbins is a spokesperson for Dating.com Group, an award-winning sexual health advocate, and author of the site imstilljosh.com. He was nominated for a GLAAD media award in 2017 and recently won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s Excellence Award in the blog-ging category.