A bit of holiday advice

This is a guest post by Laurie and Debbie. Debbie Notkin is a body image activist, a feminist science fiction advocate, and a publishing professional. She is chair of the motherboard of the Tiptree Award and will be one of the two guests of honor at the next WisCon in May 2012. Laurie is a photographer whose photos make up the books Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes (edited and text by Debbie Notkin) and Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes (edited by Debbie Notkin, text by Debbie Notkin and Richard F. Dutcher). Her photographs have been exhibited in many cities, including New York, Tokyo, Kyoto, Toronto, Boston, London, Shanghai and San Francisco. Her solo exhibition “Meditations on the Body” at the National Museum of Art in Osaka featured 100 photographs. Her most recent project is Women of Japan, clothed portraits of women from many cultures and backgrounds. Laurie and Debbie blog together at Body Impolitic, talking about body image, photography, art and related issues. This post originally appeared on Body Impolitic.

Laurie and Debbie say:

This list is (mostly) for folks who celebrate the upcoming holidays, and are fortunate enough to have people and resources to celebrate with; if you don’t fit that group, skip to the bottom. If you do fit, then even if your family are your favorite people and you look forward all year to the holidays, you still may find useful hints here.

1) You have a right to enjoy things in your own way.To the extent possible, do as much or as little holiday stuff as you want; it’s supposed to be a celebration, not an obligation.

2) Spend time with people who know you’re awesome. If you must spend time with people who are toxic, remind yourself three times (out loud) in your last alone moments before seeing them that they are toxic. Then do something really nice for yourself the minute you are out of their presence. (If they are not just toxic but abusive, here’s some excellent advice.)

3) Eat what you enjoy. Desserts are not sinful, they’re just desserts.

4) Wear what you think you look terrific in; accept compliments and ignore digs about your clothes.

5) Plan your responses to inevitable comments beforehand. Try not to spend energy on the digs, because they probably aren’t going to stop. For example, if you know that your sister is going to tell you, “for your own good,” how your hairstyle is unbecoming to you, be prepared to say, “I appreciate your concern. Excuse me, I really want to catch up with Uncle Harry.”

6) If you think kids are fun, they can be a great escape from the adult follies. If kids drive you crazy, keep your distance when you can, and try to keep your patience otherwise: they didn’t overstimulate themselves with sugar and toys.

6) If you have enough to give to someone who has less, this is a good year for it. If you know someone who is having a crappy holiday, take a moment to do something for them that they will enjoy.

7) If you hate the holidays, or they make you sad, you’re not alone. Participate as little as possible. They’ll be over soon. If you’re wishing you had someone (someone particular or folks in general) to spend the holidays with, treat yourself with special care. If you’re a volunteering type, that can work, but so can staying at home and taking a hot bath.

8) Be effusive about every gift you get; then be discreetly rude about the awful ones later to your friends. If they’re really awful, throw them off a bridge in the middle of the night.

If these aren’t your holidays, have a great Chinese meal and enjoy the movie!

We’ll be back in the beginning of the New Year.

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11 comments for “A bit of holiday advice

  1. Denise Winters
    December 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Great advice , and this from someone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday, has a (homophobic and fat-shaming) family that does, and will be eating home-made Indian food and enjoying a movie.

  2. December 25, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Yeah, good advice, except for the throwing stuff off a bridge part. Of course I spent Xmas day entirely alone, so my opinion might not hold much weight.

    • December 26, 2012 at 2:39 am

      I’m so jelly

    • Chuchundra
      December 26, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Yeah, between eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle and your various charity thrift stores, there’s almost certainly somewhere that your craptastic gift could find a home.

      • December 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        I think that might have been a reference to a scene in “Dead Poets Society.” Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) throws Todd’s (Ethan Hawke) birthday gift off a roof or bridge, because it’s the same exact thing that his neglectful parents had bought him the year before.


  3. December 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    If you’re physically able to, taking a walk is a good way to get a break from too much pandemonium. Especially after dinner, you can make the “ugh, so full, going to take a walk to help digest some of this food” excuse. Grab one or two family members you do like, if you need company.

    Also, the best way to make sure someone who doesn’t like the holidays has a nice time is to not force it on them. Not everyone likes the holidays and not everyone has to.

    And if someone says they don’t want or need a gift, it is perfectly acceptable to take them at their word and not get them a gift.

  4. December 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    What a great list. Though the holidays are pretty easy for me, I feel great about myself after reading this!

  5. Angie unduplicated
    December 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Denise, would I be welcome if I bring an Indian dish and homemade sambal?
    Trent Hamm (The Simple Dollar) has my family, apparently. He states that people come for the food and stay for the fights. This is why so many religions consider solitude a spiritual practice.

  6. FYouMudFlaps
    December 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I do like the holidays, but still find it awesome how every Asian food place by me was open. After a while on Christmas Day I got bored at home, so I went to get some rice.

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