Post Holiday Reflections

Abundance in Absence: How to Foster Queer Joy for Future Holiday Seasons

· Updated on October 4, 2023

The holidays of my youth had always been a time full of the resounding laughter of family. Between the thudding of cards being slammed down at the spades table or the comical stories shared over plates of soul food, our love would radiate thick through the air. So it hit hard when I realized I’d spend my first holiday season without them. 

While I managed to surround myself with a few close friends that felt like family, I couldn’t help, but feel my origin family’s absence. I wondered, in my new normal, if I’d ever feel joy around the holiday season again. 

It is no secret that for many LGBTQ+ Americans, due to insurmountable distance, lack of finances, or estranged relationships, the holiday season can be everything, but ideal. Trying to find joy alone or in the company of friends in a society that doesn’t include those experiences in the image of happiness for the season can feel beyond difficult. But in my time crafting abundance in absence, I’ve learned that joy during the holidays isn’t something found in others, but created in ourselves. 

Relinquishing joy to be only something you can be blessed with at birth or stumble upon leaves it to be a thing of chance. But joy is a choice. A tool we all can choose to engage with, regardless of familiar presence. Choosing joy during the holidays can look like hosting a get together with friends, virtually hanging out with chosen family, resting at home, watching a favorite movie, and so much more. Truthfully, our joy and the forms it takes on can be limitless, if we let it. 

For those future holiday seasons, here are 5 tips on creating joy and fostering abundance, even in absence. 

Know Your Triggers 

If you’re anything like me you live on social media, but seeing your friends post their holiday pics full of smiling family might not be the best for your mental health. Choose peace by limiting your time online for the holiday season and give the energy to yourself instead of scrolling. This speaks to the broader notion of knowing what triggers you to feel lonely and staying far away from it. Remember, your reality is what you create it to be: tap into joy and steer clear of triggers. 

Identify and Create Your Joy 

Think about what makes you happy on a regular day or during the holiday season. Maybe it’s being around friends and chosen family or a movie or song that’s always played in your house. Maybe it’s being alone and reading your favorite book. Maybe it’s a holiday activity that brought you joy as a child. Identify what brings you joy and then, recreate it! Remember, we are the authors of our lives and we can give ourselves moments by remembering that people aren’t transferable, the feelings we shared are. (And no excuses! Friends busy the day of a holiday? Try connecting with them beforehand!) 

Be “Delusionally” Empowered

The truth of the matter is being away from family during the holidays, if that’s what you desire, can be tough. But rather than dwelling on their absence, be delusionally empowered by your choice to find joy in spite of. Think about how much your future self is thanking you for carving out this space for yourself. Think about how, even without the stereotypical holiday festivities, you are still creating your own joy. As delusional as it might feel at first, soon you’ll be empowered by your ability to create the environment you want for yourself during the holidays. So, be delusional until you start to see your own empowerment. 

Treat Yourself 

We all need a “pick me up” every now and then. Make a tough holiday your time to show yourself some extra tender love and care, and treat yourself. This can look like self care, with an extra long shower or doing face masks the day of a holiday. It could be ordering your favorite food instead of cooking or finally renting that movie you’ve been meaning to see. Invest in treating yourself that day or during the weekend. Remember that caring for yourself isn’t only in the grand things, but also in the small acts of kindness and love we show ourselves daily. 

Trust in Time, It Does Get Better 

Your first holiday without family might feel like a mess, but trust, in due time it does get better. Know that you are not alone and that many other folks have shared your experience and gone on to live full and happy lives. Know that each year presents you with the opportunity to deem the glass half full and do the powerful act of pouring into one’s own cup. 

The key to fostering joy during the holidays and throughout absence in our lives is to remember we are not the cards dealt to us, nor the circumstances we face. We are not solely our sorrows nor our low points in our lives. But rather, we are the authors of our lives and we can choose at any point to write in joy, love, compassion and community into our stories.

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