Skip to main content

Gonna Treat Myself, Not Trash Myself, This Holiday Season


'Tis the season for treats! Shopping! Cookies! Christmas music! Hallmark movies! Gay apparel! Tinsel! Mulled wine! Eggnog drinks! The gleeful mockery of Starbucks cups!!!

'Tis also the season for health crises, family feuds, financial disasters, glittery litter, and whole parties of people falling off wagons.

So how to enjoy the flames of Yuletide without burning your whole life down?

America, I wish you knew how to CTFD. This great nation is a young culture, the adolescent child of Puritan parents, who isn't quite sure yet how to rebel against fundamentalist martyrdom without getting smashed and falling out of a third-floor window. (Aren't you ironically just as dead if you kill yourself with excess rather than deprivation?)

But I think I have mastered the art of enjoying the holidays--actually enjoying them, not using them as an excuse to drown my sorrows--by thinking of myself as pregnant.

I'm not. Let's get that out of the way. Nor do you have to be--or want to be--pregnant to do this spiritual exercise. Simply imagine yourself pregnant with a divine presence. Like Baby Jesus. Or Baby Joy. Or Huitzilopochtli. Or any rebirth/Solstice deity who inspires you. Or your own inner child, ready to be healed and reborn.

If there is any part of you that *hates* the Christmas season, now is the time to work on it, because I guarantee you, you will not be able to avoid it. Start by finding some part of this time of year that soothes your senses--any of your five senses. Indulge in that--but only insofar as you would if you were pregnant.

For example. I love coffee, but I gave up caffeine when I was actually pregnant. On occasion, I would indulge in a small amount of decaf. Any more gave me diarrhea, so! It turned out not to be worth it. Other pleasures, however, became available to me and served my health and my long-term comfort, such as eating more food than ever before.

Listen to your body--not only to your cravings and desires but to how you feel once you've sated them. Do you feel better or worse? Adjust your indulgence as needed.

When I was pregnant, I also tried to avoid stress and negativity. I was gentle with myself, both physically and emotionally, and I accepted other people's nurturing and babying of me to a greater extent than I ever had before in adulthood.

If the holidays bring you anxiety, think of yourself as pregnant with your own baby self, and try to invite that kindness into your life.

If the holidays wind you up into a mania of exuberance, go ahead and lean into that--but not too far! Think of the (actual) children for goodness' sake. Take care to savor the magic of the season in a way that won't land you an episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive" in 2019.

Again, think of yourself as pregnant. You'll need a few new things, of course. You're excited, of course. Let's not ruin that.

"Treat yourself" has come to be understood as a call to go shopping or unbuckle your pants to revel in a bit of guilty pleasure, but the word "treat" can also mean to care for one's health by dealing with an illness. If you have an addiction, it is folly to "treat yourself" by allowing yourself to slide backward into your sickness.

I'll go back to my personal example of coffee. I love my coffee. I am medically addicted to caffeine, but I don't consider it a problem in my current lifestyle. If I have to stop drinking it temporarily (as I did during pregnancy), I can wean myself off of it in a timely manner, with minimal discomfort and no serious risks to my health. And while I am able to enjoy a couple of lattes each morning, I am suffering no ill effects of my consumption. However! If I decide to "treat" myself with an extra latte, being sensitive to drugs, I am immediately "rewarded" with gut cramps, eyelid twitches, stinky sweats, and insomnia. It's not a treat! It's a trap!

My "treats" during the holiday season will be different from yours or anyone else's. Maybe you can have that extra latte (in a deliciously hateful Starbucks cup or not) without making yourself sick. We all have different preferences, cravings, and responses. So put your hands on your belly and get in touch with what that divine spark inside truly wants--and truly needs.

This year, I am treating myself by:
  • listening to Tinsel and Tunes (when my husband isn't home--he's allergic to Michael BublĂ©)
  • mailing glittery cards to a few loved ones
  • baking wholesome cookies with European-style butter
  • buying and wrapping thoughtful, practical, and carefully budgeted gifts for my daughter which I expect will thrill her on Christmas morning and also not end up in the trash by Valentine's Day
  • cleaning the bathroom with this spray that smells like a real Christmas tree and not a gol-dang Yankee Candle
  • taking a few basic lessons in tango technique, you know, just in case I need to know this for a holiday party, and also because it builds my muscles for snow shoveling and firewood chucking
  • building fires, cuddling with my furry husband and cat, and watching free movies on Hoopla
  • wearing my Christmas socks and knitted hat to work 
  • decorating my tree at home with cat toys instead of ornaments so we can all just have fun

None of the above indulgences will leave me feeling like (or literally creating large mountains of) trash afterward. I wish you, too, a season of comfort and joy that treats you well.


Happy holidays! If you like, here are some Yuletide tales to tell by the fireside.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

The Tiny Tweens

Girls really do grow up faster than they used to! My baby has just started third grade. Here she is looking like a tiny tween. Some of the girls in her class are bigger, taller, and older looking than she is. This is the new reality of girls in elementary school.

My daughter has given away nearly all of her toys and set up a neat and tidy homework desk stocked with notebooks and pens. She's more interested in Minecraft than My Little Pony now, but she still prefers to run around and play with other kids outside than to sit with a device.

Sometimes people ask me if I'm sad that my child is growing up so quickly. So far, not really. She was a very cute baby, but every year older is easier and more fun for me! We haven't yet hit peak enjoy-it-while-it-lasts.

She gets herself ready for the day. She can help with more chores. She sleeps in until about 7:00 a.m. (It used to be 5:00.) She still wants me to read to her at bedtime, but now it's horror chapter books rather than…

My Alpha

It turns out my husband is a fantastic alpha reader. Who knew? We've been married for 13 years and have known each other for 21. And last weekend was the first time I ever had him alpha read for me. Turns out he's the best creative partner I could ever hope for and that he still has the ability to surprise me with hidden talents and acts of love.

My husband is not really a fiction reader. He probably hasn't read a novel since high school AP lit class. It's not that he doesn't love a good story, it's that he doesn't like sitting still long enough to read a book or watch a movie. He's a very active and extroverted man, and he'd rather have a conversation or a real-life adventure than read a book. He's kind of like Gaston if Gaston weren't an asshole.

So until now, I haven't wanted to bother him with requests to read my writing, because reading novels isn't his jam, and also because I've always harbored guilt at how much time I spen…

The Golden Moments

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) 

The only time this is not generally true for me is in the fall. This is the golden moment when I feel most alive, aware, and present with everyone and everything around me. This is when my daughter and I begin most days with a walk in the golden hour of the morning, in this most golden season of the year.

It's also that magical time when my little golden child is still excited about school, from our morning walks to seeing her friends at recess to the Scholastic Book Fair to riding the bus home with more friends. She has already earned another "Golden Warrior of the Week" award (for exceptionally helpful behavior) and received an excellent, glowing report at the first parent-teacher conference of the year.

I've extended my "fallow period" from working on my novel, and I'…

"Steh auf" for the Friday the 13th Harvest Moon!

Tonight, the lunar fall begins! Behold the Harvest Moon on the night of Friday the 13th, which hasn't happened since the year 2000 and won't happen again for another 30 years! I'm so excited because fall is my favorite season. Summer is generally when my anxiety peaks, and I question my whole life and my existence and whether I am an idiot for spending so much time writing books that might turn out to be incredibly silly and ridiculous.

And now the Harvest Moon finally comes, and with it a marvelous reminder that some of my favorite kinds of art and media are silly and ridiculous. Lindemann has released their latest video, for "Steh auf," which feels like a direct message to me from the universe to quit mainlining the Weltschmerz, stand up, recommit to my 2019 resolution to Be Bestial, and get my own silly and ridiculous work completed.

Like, I have no idea what's going on with this small stage / looney bin / Mongol invasion, but I like it. This resonates wit…