Sologiving: There's Nothing Wrong With Spending Your Holidays Alone

Thanksgiving, like all the holidays around this time of year, can be difficult for many of us. Some people can’t afford to celebrate the way others can, some people have unbearable family members, and some lack family altogether. Some holidays like this one even reinforce colonialist ideas or require problematic traditions. Add that to the capitalist twist imposed on virtually all holidays in America, and the fact that many people going to college are struggling financially, and the result is that many students and people our age don’t expect much from the holidays.

Personally, I avoid celebrating with family because it’s exhausting. Much of that comes from the fact that I’ve left the church my entire immediate family and much of my extended family are still a part of. They respect my decision more than I expected, but the expectation of belief and church attendance are still there, and acting a part is often just not worth it, especially since it’s rarely rewarding at all. 

Honestly though, I have no room to complain. I’m lucky to have a loving family, I’m lucky that my family is supportive regardless of my religious views, and I’m lucky that, owing entirely to my gender, I’m allowed to be angry about feminist issues at family gatherings. I’m allowed to snap in ways that a woman would rarely be able to without shame. Not only that, but my gender makes extended family take me more seriously; it’s assumed that I’m only interested in feminism and anti-capitalist views intellectually, and lack an emotional investment that, for some reason, is seen to invalidate the arguments of women in these areas. I am, in fact, very emotionally invested in issues of social justice. My emotions are just seen as tolerable or even supporting factors in my arguments.

Clearly, not everyone can handle the emotional labor required of them over the holidays. And that alone is a perfectly valid reason to avoid family over these coming weeks. Some of you are struggling with eating disorders; being around family plus being around food can be terrible for your recovery. Some of you struggle with alcoholism, which can make it a very bad idea to be around people who are socially drinking to celebrate. There are countless reasons why we can struggle over December, and over many other holidays.

The point is, not everyone celebrates the same holidays, and not everyone appreciates or celebrates those holidays in the same way. While some of you are enjoying family company for every holiday and are celebrating the season, some of you aren’t celebrating anything and are spending the time working (also fine). Regardless of your situation, remember that it’s okay to celebrate alone, and it’s okay to not celebrate at all. Don’t feel bad for enforcing your boundaries, and doing what’s best for you. Your happiness and comfort are more important than the holidays. So, this Thanksgiving, bundle up, binge watch Netflix, and remember that it’s okay to do things alone.

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