It’s the holiday season. While this time of year should be a time of joy and fellowship with family, for many, it’s a time of anxiety, stress, depression, and even PTSD. For those of you who fall into the latter category, fret not. I have a holiday gift for you.
Yes you, the fine individual reading this piece. Ready for it?
My gift to you fine reader is this fundamental truth: You are under no obligation to spend your time with people who don’t respect you, are problematic, abusive, or even toxic. As I’m fond of informing others when they attempt to tell me my obligations, “In actual fact, the only things I have to do are stay black and die.” I realize that in your cases some restrictions may apply.
I get it, Family is complicated. Some relatives you can handle in small doses. Some relatives you have an ideal relationship with, provided it’s over the phone you’re both living in different time zones. If the positives of any relationship outweigh the negatives, then by all means, invest in that relationship.
However, if that relationship is causing you harm, is toxic, making you ill, you are under no obligation to suffer for the sake of appearances, convention, societal or otherwise.
But who wants to be alone for the holidays, am I right?
A guru by the name of Osho explained it best:
The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person –without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other because it is not given by the other.
But no really, who wants to be alone for the holidays, am I right? Okay, so what if you’re still alone and you’d rather not feel lonely, at least? Fear not, I offer some excellent suggestions that have gotten me through many a holiday.
Standard disclaimer: with any advice I offer, take what you can utilize, and disregard the rest.
Ready the popcorn and open a cold beverage of your choice. Kick back and watch a marathon of your favorite flicks. Perhaps the Fast & Furious series before the eighth installment is released next year. Something of the Marvel cinematic oeuvre might be more to your palette. And why even limit it to movies. This is an opportunity to catch up on some of your favorite tv shows: the final season of Sons of Anarchy, Scandal, or The Flash, or in my case, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Over the years I’ve found many wonderful alternatives to serving time with dysfunctional relatives and being forced to watch football.
Need some suggestions for some holiday films. I have a few for you.
- Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
To be honest, any of the Harry Potter installments is perfect for the holiday season. After all, what is Christmas without a little magic? More than that most of the films feature a Christmas scene as well. Given that Hallows Pt. 2 features the ultimate showdown between the Dark Lord and The Boy Who Lived, it seems like an obvious choice.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Much like Harry Potter, any of the C.S. Lewis adaptations make for an excellent pick. It was a tradition for my friends and I to catch each film when they were released in theaters on the holidays. The first film of this epic trilogy continues to be a personal favorite.
- Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
This is an admittedly odd choice for a holiday film. However, there are many reasons why this movie is appropriate. The endless snow, the hilarious escapism, the cast of colorful characters, and the personification of all things awesome that is Wallace Wells (my comic book counterpart). Sometimes a heavy epic isn’t what’s needed as opposed to a fun romp that makes you appreciate the joy that life can bring.
- He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special
Masters of the Universe, The Princess of Power, Skeletor channeling his inner Ebenezer Scrooge in this Christmas classic. Nuff said.
- Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
Without question, this is my favorite holiday movie as it combines my two favorite holidays: Christmas and Halloween. More than that, this film has everything. Lovable heroes such as Jack and Sally, action, adventure and laughs galore. It’s little wonder I watch this film at least twice a year on October 31 and again on December 25.
Write Here, Write Now
This one goes out to my fellow writers.
Throughout the month of November, you may have noticed coffee shops and libraries being more packed than usual. In addition to this attendance swell you’ve probably noticed people typing feverishly on their laptops as if to deactivate a nuclear warhead under a 20-second deadline.
There’s a reason for this. No, it’s not Hydra. It’s National Novel Writing Month… okay fine, it’s possible that Hydra could be behind NaNoWriMo, let me get back to you on that. Throughout the month of November, many writing aspirants frantically attempt to churn out as many words possible to hit the 50,000-word goal. A day off to write uninterrupted can make all the difference in the world. I know this first hand.
There’s no reason why you can’t use the Christmas holiday to put in some work.
Full disclosure time: A few years back I took my first stab at NaNoWriMo. Not only was I successful but my debut novel, Hollowstone, is the result. Three Thanksgivings prior I was putting the finishing touches on my sophomore title, West of Sunset.
Those two books alone have led to some amazing opportunities. So yes, it can happen, write here write now.
See what I did there?
So if you’re a Playstation fan, you no doubt recognize this slogan for the Playstation 4. But if you’re an X-Box person get your X-Box on, same goes for Nintendo or any other console. Use the day to level up that character you’ve been meaning to level or go vanquish another ancient unstoppable evil and brand new worlds or revisit some favorite ones. The point is, get your escapism on.
If you’re busy like me, then you have more than a few YA, urban fantasy and graphic novels on your reading list to work through.
Use the holiday season to relax and feed your mind and imagination. If you’re looking for suggestions, I’m currently reading Joss Whedon: The Biography, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Year of Yes, and this delightful novel entitled West of Sunset by a certain writing prodigy.
While donating and volunteering should ideally be a yearlong endeavor and admittedly clichéd on the holidays, the truth is, there’s never a bad time to pay it forward. Whether it’s singing at retirement homes, cooking at shelters, any goodwill towards your fellow man will be truly appreciated.
I would also suggest focusing on charities that don’t necessarily get a lot of attention. Counseling centers/suicide prevention hotlines. Also PoC and LGBTQ organizations are always in need of volunteers and donations.
As the old adage goes, to whom much is given, much is required.
Organize your Cloud Drives
If you’re a geek like me, you probably have libraries upon libraries of work files, articles, movies, music, photos, art, graphic novels, etc. And if you’re as busy as I am, you do well to simply to upload and backup files, much less organize them.
A day off like Christmas or New Years is the perfect opportunity to get your files in order. More than that, if you regularly work from multiple devices like say a Macbook an iPad and iPhone, that will definitely maximize your efficiency.
Celebrate With Your True Family
They say blood is thicker than water, well I say family is thicker than blood. Your friends, your crew, your clan, your gang, your squad, ride or dies, whatever you want to call them, at the end of the day they’re your true family. Not the bio relatives who may or may not be responsible for you spending thousands of hours and dollars in therapy. But your tribe. Your tribe is comprised of the people who keep you honest. Your true family drives you crazy but they also keep you sane.
Maybe it’s a meet-up with some buds at Starbucks. Maybe a dinner party to ring in the New Year. Maybe it’s a dinner at Waffle House while they’re passing through town.
However you choose to celebrate the holiday, just be safe and be happy. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Blessed Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice, Have a wonderful New Year.
Happy Holidays to you and yours.