Right off the bat, I want you to know that I totally get it. Right now, the entire world is talking about nothing but the freaking holidays. Commercials, movies, special TV episodes, re-runs of special TV episodes, social media, advertisements. All of it. And not just that, every single one of those outlets is talking about family over the holidays because everyone has a family on the holidays! The holidays are a time to spend with your family! And since everyone has a perfect family they spend regular time with, everyone loves the holidays! And if you don’t love the holidays, you must be a cold-hearted psychopath!!!
This is likely all you’ve been hearing lately, and that’s a shame. Because whether you lost your loved ones because they passed on, or because they were abusive, or because they abandoned you, or because you left them when you felt unsafe, or because they didn’t accept you, you are a special breed who, right now, feels like you do not fit into the expectations of the holiday season. And it’s the loneliest feeling in the world.
Most of my life, I’ve “joked” (see also: masked my actually very deep and also painful feelings via humor because I’m a comedian and hence I am a pro at this) that I wish I could fall asleep on November 1st and wake up some time around March, when all of the holidays have come and gone. Because, man, it’s a good stretch of time right there, and for people who are spending the holidays alone—whether they’ve spent it alone their whole lives or this is the first year doing so—it can seem like a never-ending reminder that you don’t fit (which you already knew).
But from one longtime holiday loner to another, there are some things I want you to know:
No, you don’t deserve this.
You’re not alone during the holidays because you deserve to be—everyone deserves a great family who loves them and makes them feel safe. The fact that you never had that or don’t have it anymore is not the result of your being unlovable, or because something is wrong with you. I know it sounds like, “Duh, I know that,” but seriously, around this time of year it’s so easy to subconsciously think otherwise. I don’t know why you didn’t get what most of your friends have, but I know you deserve every bit as much love and normalcy as everyone else. Never doubt this.
No, you’re not a monster because you hate this time of year.
I hate, more than I can tell you, how much our world neglects people who have a hard time around the holidays. And if that’s you then of course you might not want to deck the halls or hear even the opening bars of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” while paying for your groceries. That’s normal, and it’s not because you’re joyless but because you’re in pain. It makes sense you’d want to avoid things that cause you more pain—that’s just coping.
Yes, you’re allowed to celebrate or not celebrate the holidays however you want.
Whether your tradition is “not acknowledging the holidays at all” or “turning my phone off and watching movies while eating snacks” or “crying, so much crying,” I support it. You have every right to be spending the holidays alone or with people, crying or not crying. It doesn’t make you weak or a bummer or anti-social. Most people will not understand how you have chosen to survive—and they don’t need to. You understand it and that’s enough.
More than anything though I want you to know I care about you. I know you don’t know me, but I feel like I know you. Like, I know that you might even lie to people and tell them you have huge plans when your plans are to try not getting overwhelmed with the burden of your sadness in the reflection of everyone else’s socially-normal happiness. And I forgive you for that lie because I know why you told it—so forgive yourself for it, too.
My hope for you this year and every holiday is you remember you are special, you deserve love, and you are stronger than most people. You probably don’t want to be strong all the time, but it’s still a sign of character. And, if you can, be extra kind to people right now, even if your heart feels cold and scared.
Lastly, you know when people say, “Take care,” and it’s like “What the fuck do you even mean?” Well, take care. Take care of the part of you that wants a family so badly it kills you. Take care of the part of you that will never understand why your family was the way they were, or is the way they are, or is no longer around at all. Take care of the part of you that feels other throughout the holiday season. And more than anything, feel proud of yourself, because you didn’t let being other kill you. You’re still here, and one day maybe you’ll have a family of your own and you’ll love the holidays. Or maybe you’ll never like this time of year. Either way, you’ll still be here, living. Sometimes that’s the bravest thing of all.