I don’t know what’s different about this year, but I’ve found myself capital-D Dreading the coming holiday season. I think I’m okay with my childfree status, I think I’m ready to create meaningful traditions that embrace my little family of two, I think I’ll be just fine at all the “family” sing-alongs, tree trimming parties, open houses, etc. Problem is, I don’t feel fine.
For so many years, I anticipated what holidays in my home would look like, and it’s just not that easy transitioning away from those dreams. So many of the activities I loved participating in as a child and young adult involved children, so what’s a childfree gal to do?
I turned to one of my favorite cheros (a heroine who happens to be childfree) for advice. Melanie Notkin is the founder of Savvy Auntie and the author of a book by the same title. (If you haven’t already, check out her fab Web site here.) In the “Holidays” section (page 124) she reminds me that “with the parents so often extrabusy…an auntie can actually help by making herself available to her nieces and nephews.” I know how being with my nieces and nephews takes me completely out of my head and gives me so much joy, so after perusing suggestions from Melanie and some of her readers, I started thinking about what I could do to creating some merriment and childlike wonderment for myself in the next several weeks. I could:
- Offer to take the nieces out to shop for gifts for their parents.
- Invite friends and their kids over for a cookie decorating (and eating) party.
- Over Skype, read a classic holiday story—’Twas the Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express—to the children of faraway friends.
- Bundle up my nephews and take them out to view the decorative lights in their neighborhood.
- Host a hot chocolate tasting party (peppermint, cinnamon, and boozy for the big kids).
- Invite other childfree friends over for Game Night—Charades, Celebrity, all those lively group games my family used to play when we got together.
I’m also thinking about spending extra time in the gym, reading a big juicy book, and watching all of the Harry Potter movies on DVD. I think these distraction options are healthier than fudge (which I’m still considering), and I’m also open to suggestions. I’d love to hear from you. How are you planning to face the holiday season this year?
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.