The holidays can be fun and enjoyable, but they can also be difficult and stressful. The experience is different for everyone. The expectation is that everyone should enjoy the holidays. Anywhere you go people are asking what you are doing for the holidays. The most common answer of course is getting together with family and friends. Thanksgiving seems to be more common for gathering with extended family and maybe some friends too, while Christmas is more of a small family get together. Of course the holidays also involve spending money, this time of year brings in the most revenue for retail. This is consumerism at its best; buying gifts, parties, and eating all the food!
I rarely hear anyone speaking negatively about this time of year, even if they don’t find the holidays enjoyable. It’s just not acceptable when everyone is so festive and happy. So, go on, and “put on a happy face,” right? Well, not everyone feels the same way about the holidays and if you really want to be happy and enjoy them, you need to enjoy the holidays your way, create the holidays for you.
An Introvert’s Holiday?
I am an introvert at heart. I love being alone and I have a lot of social anxiety – whether it’s seeing people in person, talking to them in person or on the phone, or even communicating via email or social media. That’s why the holidays for me used to be extremely difficult to get through. Fortunately, I’ve found my Zen and now I love the holidays. In actuality, I choose to opt out of the holiday festivities. For me, that means I don’t participate in gift exchanges (except gift cards for my mom), I don’t participate in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday shopping, and the only holiday party I go to is sponsored by work and I’m kinda required to show up, and the free food is nice. I do like getting together one-on-one with a few friends, but large (awkward) gatherings have never been something I delight in.
However, when I’m asked about what I’m doing for Thanksgiving or Christmas, my general response is “I’m going over to my friend’s house. What about you?” People love to talk about what they are doing, and I feel that most people just ask you to either 1) be nice or 2) to tell you what they are doing. So, therefore, they all get my canned response. My choice for the holidays is to enjoy the alone time – that’s a gift to myself. As an introvert that does not enjoy social situations, I choose not to subject myself to social gatherings I know I will not enjoy. Therefore, I enjoy the holidays my way, however unusual it may be to others.
No Scrooge Here
I don’t hate Christmas, and I’m no scrooge. Other people have tons of fun being with friends and family during this time of year, so I’m not going to rain on their parade. I also love seeing all the lights and decorations; it really is beautiful.
However, I don’t enjoy the social gatherings or the consumerism. I have what I need, I hate traveling, and I’m not a fan of exchanging gifts. From my experience, the anxiety of exchanging gifts is stressful – trying to figure out what to give someone else, hoping they enjoy it, when it will probably just end of being some piece of crap that they never use and gathers dust until they give it away to Goodwill. (Although I know that kind of sounded like a scrooge, I would never actually say that to someone that is truly enjoying the holidays.)
I listen to other people happily tell me about what makes the holidays fun for them. For a lot of people that have kids, it’s seeing them happy and caught up in all the fun things to do during this time of year, including opening all the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people go into debt this time of year buying gifts they can’t afford just to follow tradition and keep up with everyone else.
A Holiday For Me
I love my version of the holidays because it gives me an excuse to enjoy my alone time, curl up with my dog and a good book, and avoid consumerism all together. I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like, and right now, after catering to other people’s enjoyment most of my life, I now choose to do the things I enjoy. I don’t feel the need to cave into the pressure of doing things for other people’s enjoyment or spending money on gifts, decorations, and social affairs just to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ because that’s never going to be who I really am. I enjoy seeing other people happy, but I also want to create happiness for myself.
Enjoy your life as you take time to experience everything around you. It is a great time to reflect on who you really are and who you want to be. Different strokes for different folks; so please don’t judge others on what they chose to do with their life. I don’t judge others as they experience the joy of the holidays their way, and I hope they don’t judge me for being different.
Find your own happiness and be grateful for the ability to choose your own path. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else likes to do. Enjoy the holidays your way! Make the holidays for you!