On the ableism of the holidays

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Martina is the perfect Christmas buddy because she doesn’t care what anyone expects of her.

I probably don’t have to tell you that the holidays are out of hand.

We know they are out of hand. Every year we acknowledge it, we complain about malls and music and all the crap we buy and receive, and yet we still participate in it.

I constantly hear people talking about about how exhausting it is to travel and how the holidays aren’t actually restful. And yet everyone I know is participating in it in different ways.

In the six Christmases that have happened when I was away from “home” I have always gone back to stay with my parents for at least a week, and this year I took a look at the price to fly back, and thought, “why, though?”.

It’s not that I don’t love my family and friends there. I love to visit, and just did so recently. But right now I’d rather take the time to rest and hang out at home (the house where I live now). The only reason to go would be because people expect me to.

But I tell people this and they are shocked. I told a coworker the other day that my plan for Christmas was to stay home and hang out with my cat, and that I was looking forward to the rest. She said “you’ll feel differently when Christmas comes along”. This seems to be most people’s attitude about the holidays.

I really don’t believe that. The last two thanksgivings, I turned down a bunch of dinner invitations and never regretted it. I have said before that it’s an introvert thing, but it’s more than that.

It’s also about having a wonderful home where I can feel comfortable just hanging out. Having wonderful roommates, a cat, and space to be creative (I make music, crafts and preserves pretty regularly) means that just being here and enjoying home is enough. I don’t need to go out and buy crap, spend money on eating out or on entertainment in order to enjoy myself. I can just be home. For real.

One of the simplest ways our society instills ableism is by telling us that if we’re not busy, we’re not enough. We can’t rest until the halls are decked and everyone has enough christmas baking. Actually, there can never be enough Christmas baking. So many people spend more time preparing for the holidays than actually enjoying them. How are we ever supposed to take care of ourselves?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with going to visit your family.Just be intentional about it. Ask yourself, why am I doing this?

If it’s only because people expect you to, maybe it’s time to revisit it. Resistance isn’t futile. You might end up actually feeling rested.

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