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  • Writer's pictureLaura Perry

Happy holidays! Or, don't tell other people how to celebrate

The holiday season is a rough time of year for many people. A lot of us have to navigate family conflicts, religious baggage, work obligations, issues of expectations and stress and budgets... you get the idea. So why must so many of us make it even worse by making demands about how others deal with this time of year?

I've grown to expect that a certain variety of Christian will make a stink about people who don't say Merry Christmas. I just can't take them seriously and I've gotten good at ignoring them. But I've recently seen a whole bunch of people (including ones I thought were above this sort of thing) telling others how to celebrate the various holidays that come this time of year.

It's one thing to remind our friends and family that many societal expectations about, for instance, Christmas/Solstice gatherings and gifts are not part of our personal "rules" for the season and we won't be upset if they don't follow those "rules."

It's one thing to say, "This is how I do it. I just wanted to share, but I certainly don't expect you to do the same thing and I won't be disappointed if you do something different."

It's one thing to make it clear to the people in our lives that we don't want them to feel pressured to do any of the "required" or "expected" things if those things will be a problem for them, and to let them know that their happiness and sanity matter more to us than any kind of holiday activity.

These are helpful things to do, to support each other through this time of year that's so hard for many folks.

It's quite another thing to tell others, whether over a coffee or on your blog, what kinds of gifts they should give (or not) and which aspects of the holidays they should focus on or ignore. How they should approach the holidays, how they should manage their mental health or their spiritual practice at this time of year.

Doing that makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution. It makes you kind of like the "Merry Christmas" fundies, insisting that other people do things your way because, of course, your way is better than theirs.

So please pay attention to how you're approaching others about the holidays, both in person and online. Let's help and support each other, not grind each other down and make demands that cause even more friction and strife. The basics of the Golden Rule work well here: if you wouldn't want other people telling you how to handle the holidays, don't go doing that to anyone else, either.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

#ethics #calendar #solstice #culture #psychology #spirituality

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