Prepping for the Holidays — Queerly, of Course

By Jennie Roberson

December 17, 2021

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Photo credit: Pexels/Kaboompics.com

Seasons Greetings to one and all! I hope that as the days darken, everyone who is reading this column is happy and warm and safe as can be.

Do you look forward to the holidays? Can’t wait to hang the tinsel, spin the dreidel, light the candles and pour libations into the unity cup? That’s wonderful.

Or are you dreading the days to come? Do you feel unmoored at the idea of bringing your bi self through the final weeks of the calendar year? We can relate. December tends to be one of the most stressful times of the year, and we’ve already collectively had, er... a bit of a year on top of that.

Trepidation is a totally normal and healthy reaction to piles of stress — especially if you feel like you can’t be your full, authentic self in most situations coming up. That’s why I’ve put together a toolkit for you to help navigate these festive and bright moments — from before the hurricane all the way to aftercare (because I’m thorough.)

An african american man and woman smile together wearing santa hats and holding a mug.
Bigstock/Dean Drobot

I’ve strived to keep these tips and tricks accessible and low-to-no-cost/low spoon output, but please take what works for you and leave what doesn’t feel like a good fit. I promise I won’t be offended!

Without further ado, grab your holiday snack of choice, and let’s get going:

Start with self-care

We may not be able to control everything about this season, but we can control ourselves, so let’s start there. It’s a good idea to refer to these ideas throughout the season to make sure you’re taking care of number one before anything else — not pouring from an empty cup, etc.

Set up a way to get yourself centered

How do you like to bring yourself back to your own beautiful body and your own processes? Try to set this up ahead of time — scheduling time for yourself as you think you will need it for meditation, a walk, or grabbing a breath of fresh air.

(Need help with finding meditation? Check out these free apps. Or if you don’t want to download yet another app, there are plenty of free guided meditations on YouTube.)

Please note: if you can and have access to one, this is also a good time to set up ahead of time decompression sessions with a therapist. (I know I, for one, have set up a reminder on December 1st to contact my old therapist to resume sessions since my insurance kicks back in on that date.) There’s no shame in taking care of yourself.

An asian american man sits cross legged drawing on a notepad outdoors.
Pexels/Armin Rimoldi

Make your space your own

Maybe you have a house, apartment, room, or office desk over which you have dominion. Wherever your retreat is, take the time to tidy it up and decorate it in a way that prioritizes your peace and sense of self. This doesn’t necessarily mean throwing tinsel over everything (unless that’s your thing!), but maybe it’s a spot to put that rock your boyfriend gave you — even if others don’t know what that trinket means to you, you do. Your talismans matter.

Put together your media comfort foods.

Queer playlist full of bi bops? Awesome choice (and, ahem, I have a few suggestions if you need help curating your tracks). That one movie that always boosts your mood by at least 12%? Bookmark it. These do not have to be bi-centered, by the by — just has to be something that gives you enough fuzzies to feel a respite from stress and strain — be it for three minutes or ninety minutes running time.

Take good care of that body-ody-ody!

During the holidays, all the tastiest foods and treats come out. And those are fab. But it’s also important to make sure to nourish your body as well as your spirit. Trust me — having a few healthier habits — be it running twice a week or a high-fiber bar — as part of your regimen during these days will fuel you to get through some of the tougher times. Your body will thank you in January for taking care of it.

Heading out into that great, big world

5 friends of different ethnicities sitting at a diner table posing for a selfie with holiday ornaments and smiling.
Bigstock/dolgachov

Make your own traditions!

We’re not little kids anymore, right? That grants us some agency over our lives. Does that mean starting to set up a Friendsgiving? Maybe. Can it be as small as having a self-worth mantra you say to yourself as you ride up an elevator to a holiday party? You bet! Depending on your free time and energy threshold, figure out what will bring you joy. Two years ago, I started putting together a holiday tradition for my bi social group of a cookie exchange/ugly sweater party. It was easy to set up and made my bi heart grow three sizes each time.

Set up your support network before going to high-stress get-togethers

I’m talking a buddy into going with me to that next (COVID-safe) holiday party. I’m talking texting and asking your one friend you’re out to if they’re open to you calling them on the holidays for a five-minute venting session if you have to get out of the house. And, if you have the heart-space, make sure your queer friends know you can be that for them, too.

Get some damn fresh air.

Please remember you can always, always step out of the room for a breath of fresh air whether you need a break from a homophobic relative or just need to get away from the heteronormative marathon of Hallmark Christmas movies. It’s all valid. Five minutes can do wonders for your mental health. Ten minutes is better!

During the official observations

Need some snappy or suave comebacks? We’ve got you covered!

L’esprit de l’escaleir is very, very real — especially during highly-charged holiday interactions. Not sure you’ll have the right words during possibly-erasing interactions and wanna have a witty riposte? Don’t worry, I gotchu.

Find and foster for yourself some online safe spaces

Obviously, bi.org is always here for you, but I often refer to the past letters of the Your Holiday Mom project to provide some of the queer online support many of us lack from our blood families.

That said — watch out for how much time you’re spending online

I don’t need to warn you about the dangers of blue light — but it’s also important to note that more time online can leave us even more anxious than before. Consider putting a fifteen-minute timer on your phone, so you enjoy your time diving into the bi side of TikTok without ramping up the cortisol.

Find some subtle ways to remind you of your pride, even if it’s just for yourself.

I know that time home during the last few weeks of the year isn’t always affirming. That doesn’t change who you are, though! Sometimes we need a reminder — even if it’s only things we see, like a pink/purple/blue keychain decoration or dressing in the colors of the flag in sections.

Just remember — somewhere, Freddie Mercury is proud of you and wants you to pet all the cats you can see.

Ever-important aftercare

Holy cabooses, you made it through! I knew you could do it. Never doubted you for a second.

But what now? December may have been harrowing, and winter is long.

A multi ethnic man lays on a hammock outside and reads a book smiling.
Pexels/Uriel Mont

Keep up with that self-care

Are you still doing some guided meditation, even if it’s just reminding yourself to take some deep breaths? Still seeing a therapist? Diving into a meditative hobby? Keeping that body moving to shake the anxiety out? Eating colorful foods? Sometimes we gotta parent ourselves — especially when the stress makes us want to run screaming into destructive or escapist patterns. Do an honest check-in with yourself and see where you can tend to the beautiful garden that is you.

Reconnect with chosen family in the new year

Remember those lovelies who adore you just as you are, and know that you’re enough? Call ‘em up for an (again, COVID-safe) potluck brunch/debriefing. If anyone will understand how your Aunt Jean refuses to think that bisexuality is real, it’s them.

Focus on your wins, no matter how small

Did you get through that work holiday party without pushing that bigot Steve into the punch bowl? Awesome. Did you remember to do some grounding techniques when a panic attack came on? Congratulate yourself out loud. It’s super important to acknowledge and celebrate these small victories — because, in time, you’ll realize that they are signs of taking care of yourself and putting yourself first, and protecting yourself and your peace. That’s worthy of notice.

Get yourself a goddamn crown

I know this one has a little bit of a price tag on it, but I can tell you from personal experience — putting on a crown always makes you feel just a bit better. Because you are a goddamn queen.

I can tell you that it works from personal experience.

They’re on Amazon — I know, I know, but they’re cheap, and you’re worth investing in yourself — you went through one heck of a holiday season.

All right, my bi buddies, that’s what I’ve got! I sure hope it helps and you feel emotionally armed for the season. Try to have some fun out there if you can. You are enough, and I love you.

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