Holiday Traditions Old and New

After spending some time online reading some lists that suggest possible holiday traditions to do in the month of December, I have decided to make a list of what I am planning on doing or have already been doing.

There are three categories of traditions that I decided to make as goals: traditions from my childhood that I love to do, traditions that I have done for years alone without any family involvement and continue to do alone at my homespace, and new traditions that I am trying to explore and do.

I decided to pick no more than five items for each of the three lists. Mostly because when I get overwhelmed and make too many goals for myself, I tend to get constricted when overwhelmed with trying to add to many things in too short of a time period and with too little energy and health, especially since I have had a sinus infection this week.

Childhood Traditions:

1 Christmas tree.

Though I have an artificial one.

2 Christmas music.

And lots of it. I have already checked out several of my favorite Christmas cds that I don’t have yet and bought more than used ten cds of some of my faves that I finally found very reasonable online.

3 Christmas animated specials.

I try to buy them used and wait for great sales and this year have gotten more of the older and newer specials that I love.

4 Sing Christmas songs.

Usually in tandem with cds. I am, unfortunately an untrained singer, but I love it, always have, hope that I always will.  I do it often, but try not to do it after a certain time of the evening.

5 Holiday foods and celebrations with treats.

I love these kinds of little additions to my personal celebrations. With health considerations and limitations I have been eating my favorite foods a lot less, so I am looking forward to a few indulgences in the next few weeks.

I am also doing my extra steps exercising, so I am hoping that will help me to stay on track with my improving my health by walking, which always has helped when I am able to do it. I used to be much more active outside at this time of year and I regret that I do not go ice skating, walking for miles, sledding, etc.

My traditions:

1 Bake things.

This is something that I never used to do, but I have in the last four or five years and I enjoy it. I’ve made bread, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. I will probably do all three things, I just need to get to a store that sells the gluten free stuff.

2 Attend some holiday gathering or presentation.

I am going to try to go to a free holiday presentation at a local store. I try to go to something every year. If I am well enough and the weather is tolerable, I will.

3 Read Christmas children’s picture books.

I love this holiday tradition. I have already gotten and read more than ten books from the library. I got some of my all-time favorite ones, read some and already returned some, and others I am still keeping and reading more than once.

4 Make Christmas crafts.

This is a celebratory creative endeavor and I had not done it for more than five years. I am happy and proud to say that I already made a few things, for gifts for others.

5 Celebrate other December holidays.

As a Christian I have tried, over the years, to adopt some Jewish holiday traditions, to incorporate them into my life. I believe that the early Christians combined the old traditions with the new and this was common for hundreds of years. I enjoy the combination. I find the Celebration of Lights incredibly powerful, miraculous, hopeful, healing, and positive.

I am also trying to, in some small way, start celebrating winter solstice as well. I’ve been having a lot of trouble doing that, over the years, but I am hoping that I can manage to do something small this year.

I’ll write more about that after I’ve really looked over the articles and made some decisions. I’ve kind of reached my limit tonight on making decisions and probably need some hours to relax my mind and maybe tomorrow or soon after I can write about what I am planning on doing for winter solstice.

I am also considering doing something for St Thomas’ Day in honor of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21st, perhaps early in the afternoon, the same day as the winter solstice.

New Traditions:

1 St. Nicholas Day Celebration.

I’ve wanted to do this for years. I am really looking forward to the St. Nick party I will be going to.

2 Do a white elephant gift exchange.

I read about this several years ago in a Christmas holiday mini-book and I’ve wanted to do that since. I have invited several family members to do it.

3 Donate Christmas presents.

For many years I volunteered at my local food shelf and participated in their Christmas presents for children program. I took part in unpacking and separating the presents into the different ages for boys and girls, which involved more than a week long of work by lots and lots of volunteers, both for the food and the toys aspects. I also took part with the two day long food and presents giveaway. My health has not been well enough to participate in that for several years, too much standing, lifting, the building is too cold, etc. But I have often thought of donating Christmas presents for children and teens. I don’t live near there and so I decided to get a few presents and donate them to the local women’s shelter.

4 Write a letter to Santa.

The Littles have not done this in years, they have mentioned several times that they would like to do this, so I am sure that they will enjoy it.

5 Celebrate Advent.

I’ve already celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. It was really awesome. I am planning on making the second Sunday even more special, with small, little extra things. I still want to keep the goals small and very achievable, which is helping me in establishing a new tradition. I’m not trying to do something special as an Advent activity each day, but for sure each Sunday of Advent for this year. Each year, I am hoping, that I will be able to add more depth and more breadth to my Advent celebrations.

I tried to pick goals that are small or estimated to be achievable, or that I have achieved in the past or am doing already this past week. A few goals are iffy, but I am going to try to do them and hopefully I will do them all and enjoy them all. I will be posting more as the month goes on. What are you going to do? Just remember, not doing anything is just as valid as a choice. Good and healing thoughts to you all.

Here are some links to some articles that I looked at:

75 Family Christmas Traditions

Family Advent Activities

40 Christmas Traditions

St. Nicholas Day

Hanukkah

Celebrating Winter Solstice

How to Have a Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice: Ritual, Ideas, & Celebrations

Customs & Holidays around the Solstice

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse December Submissions

The theme for this Edition will be holidays; good childhood memories and difficult childhood memories, coping and grounding and self-soothe and comfort skills from the past, what works now, and what skills you are working at doing, and creating new holiday traditions.

I’m planning on writing myself about my own childhood experiences during the holiday season. Because of my family of origin’s frequently recurring dysfunctional holiday experiences, I wanted to try to make the Edition with some helpful and healing posts.

Although I will be writing about and focusing on Christmas, primarily, through December on my blog I want to encourage anyone to write and submit posts about holidays that they or their families have celebrated, from their childhoods and adulthoods or ones that they have not celebrated, feelings of community, inclusion, stigmatizing, and exclusion.

Submissions Form

December’s deadline will be December 21st and the Edition will be published late that evening. If there is something you want to submit a few days late, do it, and I can add it to the Edition.

Blog post submissions for the Blog Carnivals also include: child abuse survivor stories, art and poetry, art therapy, child abuse as a topic in the news media, as well as PTSD, disassociation, areas of aftermath and aftereffects of abuse, therapy, recovery, and healing from abuse, and, all forms of child advocacy and awareness.
Advocacy and Awareness
Aftermath
Healing and Therapy
In the News
Poetry
Survivor Stories
Art Therapy

If you don’t have a blog or have a private blog you could submit a post directly to me and I can guest post it here on my blog. If you want to write on the holiday theme or any other and want to do a guest post, I can then include you in the Blog Carnival.

Here is the link to make submissions:

Submissions Form

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse November 2014 Edition

The theme for this Edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is holidays; good childhood memories and difficult childhood memories, coping and grounding and self-soothe and comfort skills from the past, what works now, and what skills you are working at doing, and creating new holiday traditions.

Firstly, thank you so much to all those to submitted for this Edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. It was an honor to read and post about your submissions. Secondly, thank you to those of you who visit this Edition and who take the time to read, think, feel, and contemplate the submissions for this Edition.

Our Monthly Theme: Holidays

Memories of Holidays with My Family

Rainbow Gryphon shares extensively and with a high level of awareness and emotions of her experiences as a child and an adult at holiday times (Thanksgiving and Jewish holidays primarily), with dysfunctional family members and without. Her descriptions of the pervasive and oppressive emotional and negative environment were so accurate and detailed. I feel as though I was there. Actually I was, just in another home, with many similar emotionally abusive elements. You have shared and in some way our hearts joined together. Rainbow, what a fascinating piece of writing. Thank you so much for sharing.

Holidays are a Time for Boundaries

April Phelps Downey, from her blog Healing the Broken Parts One Word at a Time, submitted this post. A great post contemplating the issues around boundaries in adult settings with family of origin.

My (Kate’s)  contributions are:

A Thanksgiving Time Memory (An Ugly One)

This post has a trigger warning.

This is an ugly post about child sexual abuse, around Thanksgiving time, when I was eleven years old. I only rarely write these kinds of posts, but this memory is steeped, in my mind, with Thanksgiving time, and irrevocably linked to the holiday. Of course, towards the end of the post, I have to find the redeeming quality, and it is there. Please stay safe if you read this and take care of yourself if triggered.

A Thanksgiving Memory (A Bad One)

This post also covers the Thanksgiving time when I was eleven years old. The bad part of any holiday get-together with my older brothers in attendance would always include huge doses of verbal and emotional abuse. Still I was always able to find value in the variety and abundance of food. Healing from childhood abuse and developing boundaries still doesn’t always guarantee a safe and abuse free holiday environment. I’ve learned that life is an experiment in balance and functionality, especially with family of origin. Okay, bring it on.

A Thanksgiving Memory (A Good One)

This post is one of my favorite Thanksgiving holiday memories; from being eleven years old.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Holiday Coping for Survivors

I wrote this two years ago and really wanted to include it in this month’s Blog Carnival with the holiday theme. I wrote this post after many years of trying to find the right balance, coping and comfort skills to manage holiday seasons with and without my family. I hope that some of my suggestions are helpful and potentially healing.

I’ve also included links to three of my favorite resource pages on my blog, the three that I think relate the most to holidays, all the good and all the bad and how to cope with it all, how to manage your life better, how to use grounding/coping skills, self-soothing/comforting skills, and how to manage your holiday coping better than before and hopefully bringing more life, happiness, and healing to you and into the holiday season:

Holiday Coping

Grounding/Coping Skills

Self-Soothe/Comfort

In addition I am including three links to Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse Editions of the past that cover the holidays. I hope you can take some time and visit them as well.

November/December 2013 of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse (hosted at Kate is Rising)

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse November 2011 Surviving Holidays Edition (hosted at From Tracie)

Mini Carnival: Holiday Survival Tips for Survivors 2009 (hosted at Survivors Can Thrive)

Please don’t forget we are now accepting submissions for the December Edition of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse from now until December 17th:

Submissions for December’s Edition

In the News

The Time I Was On TV Talking About Lena Dunham And Child Sexual Abuse

Tracie explains the context behind this television interview:

“I wrote a blog post for The New Agenda about Lena Dunham and the troubling passages in her memoir. That piece led to a television interview.”

It is my hope that everyone takes the opportunity to read Tracie’s excellent and important article and then watch the television interview she did on the issue of Lena Dunham. Excellent job Tracie. I so admire your courage and spunk.

John Grisham Accidentally Let Us Know Exactly What He Thinks About Child Pornography And Those Who Download It

Another one of Tracie’s best posts, in my opinion. Although she does many kinds of posts and many of them are enjoyed greatly by me, her posts on In the News topics on child abuse topics are riveting, in my opinion. I have to say I have told her this in an email, and I wanted to say it here. This woman has a mind and when she writes, she does her research and she is strong, intelligent, and compelling.

As upsetting and potentially triggering as it may be for me to learn about what is going on out there in the wider world, at times, it is an important part of healing and living; to know what the abusers and their allies are doing, saying, and believing. Bravo Tracie on another excellent post.

Survivor Stories

A Beyond Survivor’s Story: Poetic Healer and Spiritual Survival – Part 1

There are two wonderful posts from Dolores Miller; a survivor, a poet, and an activist. I could really relate to her connection to an archangel and giving herself the name Beautiful Warrior. I have a strong connection to my guardian angel as well and go by the nickname Kate@DragonWarrior.

I think that Dolores describes her post best with her first paragraph:

“I began writing poetry as a psychological release. I did not plan to write poetry, or to write at all, but as I was going through therapy to cope with suppressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. It was affecting my adult life and writing became the outlet through which I could best express my raw, often angry, emotions, and it turns out that poetry was the form that best fit my thoughts.”

Great paragraph and a great post. I hope everyone reads this.

A Beyond Survivor’s Story: Poetic Healer and Spiritual Survival – Part 2

Dolores shares more details of her childhood, her emergence of childhood abuse memories in adulthood, her therapy and therapist, and many ways that she worked on healing, especially writing poetry. Thanks so much Dolores for sharing your survivor story and of your courage in healing, in life, and now in activism.

November and December Posting, Blogging, and Blog Carnivalling

I have plans to be blogging a lot in November and December. And more in the new year than I have done this year.

I am glad that I managed to blog more last month, especially in the last half of the month. I really found it helpful and healing to write and post on the topics that I did. I always feel as though posting here on the blog helps me to think, feel, process, and heal on a huge number of topics.

I’m still struggling with writer’s block on a number of topics, but I will just keep writing. It is more difficult to write, but important that I do, even if it is flawed, even if I can’t explain things as well as I would like, even if things are very imperfect. I will continue with the struggle.

With that in mind I offered to host the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse for November and December. The upcoming holidays have given me a lot of ideas for a central theme for the blog carnival editions.

The theme for each of the months will be holidays; good childhood memories and difficult childhood memories, coping and grounding and self-soothe and comfort skills from the past, what works now, and what skills you are working at doing, and creating new holiday traditions.

I’m planning on writing myself about my own childhood experiences during the holiday season; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The holiday season still manages to bring each of the three types of holiday experiences my way each year. Because my frequently recurring dysfunctional holiday experiences, I wanted to try to make my blog full of the good, suggestions on avoiding the bad, and help and support when the ugly comes along or comes up from the past.

Since World Kindness Day and World Peace Day are November 13th and 17th, please also consider writing a post on kindness or peace as well and submitting them for the Blog Carnvial.  I am going to try to write posts for both days.

If you don’t have a blog or have a private blog you could submit a post directly to me and I can guest post it here on my blog. If you want to write on the holiday theme or any other and want to do a guest post, I can then include you in the Blog Carnival.

Submissions for either month can be done from today until the date of each Edition. Since I am hosting the Blog Carnival here at my blog for both months, you can submit for both months in the next few weeks, before the holiday season gets a hold of us all. You can also write some new posts on the holiday theme ideas or one of the other regular topics.

Submissions Form

November’s deadline will be November 21st and the Edition will be published late that evening.

December’s deadline will be December 17th and the Edition will be published late that evening.

Blog post submissions for the Blog Carnivals in November and December also include: child abuse survivor stories, art and poetry, art therapy, child abuse as a topic in the news media, as well as PTSD, disassociation, areas of aftermath and aftereffects of abuse, therapy, recovery, and healing from abuse, and, all forms of child advocacy and awareness.
Advocacy and Awareness
Aftermath
Healing and Therapy
In the News
Poetry
Survivor Stories
Art Therapy

Here is the link to make submissions:

Submissions Form

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

I am including a link here to my Holiday Coping Resource Page. There are some great online articles and blog posts there and I hope that yous will drop by there and scan over a few articles to get some ideas and tips as yous go through this holiday season. I know that I have been reminding myself recently of many of the things that I have learned from them and other places over the years. They always help me remember to take care of myself, put myself and my happiness, safety, and well-being first.

I am very thankful for my new apartment and how wonderful it is to be in an apartment of my own once again.

I hope that you have a great day with lots of fun and things to be happy about.

Today I am going to focus on the happy part of Thanksgiving. And doing lots of things that make me happy and to encourage happy in me. Since personal happiness is the topic of the next Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, hosted here the second Saturday of December, I have been thinking and doing a lot about happiness lately. I’ll be writing more about that in the near future.:)

I am going to a family dinner. I don’t normally do that, but after my beloved nephew’s death a few months ago I have re-evaluated things and am trying again to see more of the relatives. I have said to my sister that I won’t have any more cruelty in my life, and hopefully that is clear enough for them all. I can always walk out and leave. I keep telling myself that, over and over. My Advocate, from the shelter, who I talked to yesterday, told me the same thing, and she added, but eat the dinner first! So I’ll try to remind myself, eat first, leave second, lol.

I hope you all have a great and happy day. Good and healing thoughts to yous.

My Blog in December

I wanted to let everyone know that my blog in December will be focusing a lot on Christmas. For several years The Littles and then The Teens as well wanted to have more holiday focused posts during December.

So we will be doing this:

The Littles’ Healing Quotes, staring on the first and going throughout the month on the odd days and The Teens’ Healing Quotes, starting on the second and going throughout the month on the even days of the month. Each of the quotes will have a photo with them, mostly focusing on Christmas. In addition there will be some more Christmas posts, titled Christmas songs and Christmas photos. They should all be titled. I will also be posting about daily stuff, Christmas stuff, and healing stuff through the month.

I wanted to do some advance notice because even though I usually do many holiday-focused posts I realize that some survivors and especially ritual abuse survivors find this time of year and many symbols of holidays very triggering. I also know that many survivors and even others find it a very upsetting, lonely, depressing, difficult, and challenging time of year. I don’t want to add one moment of pain to any of that. I hope that you find the blog entertaining and enjoyable this next month. It is our intention to do so.

Here is the link to my Holiday Coping Resource Page with lots of links to articles on coping, comforting, getting through, dealing with stress, dealing with family and dysfunctional others, and finding some moments of joy and happiness for yourself:

Holiday Coping

Good and healing thoughts to us all through this holiday season.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Holiday Coping for Survivors

In Part 1 I shared some of what I have done in the past in the area of holiday coping. I have been preparing for some time for the upcoming holidays. I have been working on my self-esteem, self-care and connectedness issues.

Family gatherings and holidays have always been a challenge to me. It is hard to be an adult around those who have always denigrated, abused, used, and humiliated you when  you were little. It has been for me. No one would care for me or protect me and so I would try to do that on my own.

I have never managed to be an adult in my family, empowered and strong. I have always been the rejected one, the scapegoat to be blamed for everything. I have finally come to a place in my healing where I know who I am.

I am someone who is loved and who has value. I love me and I see value in me. It took being loved and valued by many survivor friends before I could slowly let that reality into my life.  

I do believe that the stronger I feel about myself, the stronger my connection to myself and my soul, and the stronger that I am connected to significant things in my life the better I can take care of and protect myself from others. Even so, a plan is a good thing for coping with family of origin relatives around the holidays. I think it is great to develop your own plan. So here is my plan:

1. Don’t make a plan of things to do for the day.

I used to make a plan of things to do. It would include reading a book and watching certain shows on tape. It usually didn’t get done. And then I would feel inadequate.

Now I try to spend some time alone, just for me, during the day, but aside from that, I don’t have a plan. I might watch a show or movie, read some, talk to friends online, spend some time with others, have a good meal, post on a message board or my blog, listen to music, take a nap, take gentle care of myself.

If plans for the day of the holiday helps or works good for you, great. I really encourage you to do what works for you.

2 Do plan things to do on the days before the holiday.

I start a holiday much sooner than most people. I try to do things for many days that are about the holiday. One thing I did this year was discuss the food we would have at our gathering. I took part in several conversations about the food that was being bought and what I would be bringing.

I bought a couple of squash. I love squash and since it is easy to prepare and I have done it before, I wanted to make something special for myself. I bought Edy’s Pumpkin ice cream, gluten free. It tastes like pumpkin pie and it is wonderful.

For Christmas I start listening to the music and wathing tv specials more than a month in advance of the holiday. Since it is my favorite time of the year I want to pack as much joy into it as possible. I shop for used items and special deals for decorations.

3. Be gentle with yourself.

I have some great shower gel and lotion. They are so nice and smooth. Using them is a nice way for me to be gentle with myself.

Try to do a few things that help calm and relax you. I take a few deep breaths and blow the air out with my teeth together. Taking a small object or talisman with you to family gatherings is a great thing to help remind you who you are and connect you to something else. I used to take a small dollie and put it in my backpack.

A few days before try to figure out a few activities that you would love to do and allow yourself to enjoy the treat.

Exercise is good, but not too much or more than your current physical level can tolerate. Be gentle. Pain isn’t necessary to get the benefits, especially for relaxing your musles and sleeping better. You deserve it.

For a few days after the holiday, be extra gentle. Cut yourself some slack. Try not to blame yourself if things go bad. Try not to let others lay their shame and blame onto you. You did the best you could and that is to be celebrated.

I remember when I was in my early twenties, no one talked about how stressful seeing family was during the holidays and how sad this time of year could be. Now there is a lot of awareness about that out there. We all know how hard it is. Be extra gentle, you deserve it.

4. Reach out to those who are good to you. Allow yourself a method to do so during the holiday.

I have connected to some friends and family this week. They nuture and feed me in my soul. That is something that I like to do. It helps me feel more solid through the holiday.

5. Read some of the suggestions by survivors and others online and make a small list of suggestions for coping and do some of them:

Holiday Coping.

6. Days in advance, make a list of some of your good qualities, remind yourself of them. 

If you don’t know what to write down, look in your comments if you have a blog and what your friends have said to you. Write them down. Keep reminding yourself.

Some of mine are tenacious, courageous, intelligent, compassionate, empathetic. I also have some lovely comments other survivors have written to me. They mean so much and make me feel better each time I read them.

7. Embrace some humor during the holiday week.

I love to watch A Christmas Story. It reminds me that humor is a good thing and that being little can be a time of joy and wonder.

8. Try to get as much sleep as possible the week before the holiday.

I have been taking naps and trying to sleep as much as possible. I never feel as though I get enough sleep, so this is something that I don’t feel I am overdoing.

9. Have an exit strategy. Remind yourself it is okay to leave.

I have given myself permission to leave. I never walked out or asked for a ride or called a cab when I was at a family member’s home.

One holiday last year I just left the room and went to my own bedroom and laid down. It is so much easier when I am in my own homespace to do that. It might seem like such a small thing, but for me, it was huge. I also avoided someone that I did not want to interact with.

If you aren’t going to be in your own space, make an exit plan. Think about a walk outside, a private conversation with a safe person, or just going into the bathroom, locking the door, and staying in there for ten minutes.

10. Remind yourself you don’t owe them anything.

I don’t owe my family anything on holidays. You don’t have to go there and if you do you don’t have to be real and honest and with your feelings with unsafe people and those who are or have been abusive. You can stand back and detach.

It took me decades to get to this place. I tried to stay with my family on holidays and have a good time and be abuse-free. That was not possible. Now I tell myself that this is the second half of my life and I get to spend it with me.

If you are spending holidays with those who have abused and hurt you, know that you can get through it and you can make it out the other side of the holidays stronger and more healed. Once you were little, but even though you may feel little and powerless,  you aren’t. You are an adult and you have the power to take care of your life and to heal.

11. Reflect on what you are connected to and what gives your life meaning.

Here are my posts on connectedness:

Connectedness, Not Grounding.

I have discovered that I am connected to a great many things. They give me meaning in my daily life. They give me a way to know that I am not alone, a way of knowing that I am loved, cared about, and valued, a way of knowing that I am worthy of being loved, cared about, and valued.

I’m sure that I will be feeling and thinking about several of the things that I am strongly connected to on the holiday; my soul, my favorite library, my ancestors, my guides, my favorite things in all the world.

12. Make some new rituals and traditions that are validating and healing for you.

I make crafts. I love to do that. I imbue them with a lot of meaning and they bring me a lot of joy. I love to go see holiday lights and looking at lit up Christmas trees.

I love to have decorations that I pick out in my homespace. I love to have a tree, though artificial, it brings me a lot of joy. I love to watch all the holiday tv specials and movies.

I love to go to the downtown Macy’s to see their holiday show. This year is A Day in the Life of an Elf. I love to go to Macy’s Christmas department and looking at all the ornaments and decorations. I love to go downtown to see the Holidazzle Parade.

Good and healing thoughts to us all.