Holiday Survival as the Family’s Psychedelic Sheep

It’s not easy being the psychedelic sheep of the family–especially during the family-oriented, conformist-rewarding celebration of Christmas.

How to cope?

If only I came from a whole family of psychedelic sheep, the holidays would be much easier. Photo by Catherine Earp, 2014 Latitude Festival, England.
If only I came from a whole family of psychedelic sheep, the holidays would be much easier. Photo by Catherine Earp, 2014 Latitude Festival, England.

Right now, I’m having what I’ll consider the best part of the family holiday. Yesterday I flew from the Midwest to my sister’s house in Seattle, where our family’s psychedelic sheep have gathered together. I’m in town for their dance company’s production of a heavy metal parody of “The Nutcracker.” We’ll eat crab legs and stay up too late and probably drink too much local microbrew, then go to the Seattle pop culture museum for the Star Trek exhibit. If my husband could have gotten time off work to make the trip, it would have been the best Christmas ever.

I distinguish between the secular (for me) holiday of Christmas and the religious holiday of Yule. I take my Yule very seriously. If I can, I gather with other local Pagans to celebrate the sun’s return. If I can’t, I hang up the evergreens and light the candles at home. My Yule Log is, sadly, a gas-log fireplace. At least it’s cheery.

This year we’ll have the added cheer of celebrating my husband’s recent cancer-free status. If that’s not symbolic of light returning to cast out darkness—well, nothing else in my life is.

Later, we’ll get together with the rest of the family. His side is boisterous and argumentative and Mediterranean. My side is almost the opposite—repressed Midwestern WASPs. My brother, too, married a woman from a very different kind of family. She’s from a large, ebullient Italian Catholic family with firm traditions and a heavy helping of matriarchal guilt if any are shirked.

So what do we do to stay sane?

He texts a running, amused commentary and takes advantage of the well-stocked wine bar. I rely

Martha Stewart, who does every holiday correctly. Photo, Martha Stewart Show.
Martha Stewart, who does every holiday correctly. Photo, Martha Stewart Show.

on meditation in the mornings, grounding and centering during the day, and a regular burst of energy to clean the crap from my auric fields. I’m also carrying a little talisman—a small stone picked up at a place sacred to me. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket and touch if I need to connect with its energy.

This year, our side of the family’s holiday is still in flux. We may go to my home Christmas afternoon or the next day. We could go to Mom’s house Christmas day, where my sister-in-law will have a ham ready. Uncertainty makes me tense. I’m actually not sure if it would be easier to demand to do the whole thing myself or continue to let it develop.

I would ask myself what my domestic ideal, St. Martha of Stewart, would do. But doubtless she would have it all under control by now. She’d likely have been working on it since Midsummer. That’s why when I ask, What Would Martha Do, it usually sounds like too much effort and I do something simpler. Ideals are nice to have, but most of us live in a world of too much to do, too little time in which to do it perfectly. And as I’m advising everyone else not to make themselves crazy this holiday season, I should take a bit of my own advice.

I’ll let the negotiations continue. I’ll take deep breaths and long, hot baths when I need them. And I’ll enjoy this weekend, which is all about breaking holiday traditions apart and making something new and colorful from the shards.

Remember, magic workers, you have the tools to do this. Even if you’re a psychedelic sheep in a flock of snowy white.

If you’d like information about a workshop to help take your holidays from hectic to happy, see the Gateway Goddess Facebook page for more information.

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