I'm a person who hasn't "celebrated" these imperialist holidays for decades. To be truly honest, with practically my entire family having made their physical transitions (mother, father, sister, brother), I no longer have much social pressure to participate. Fortunately for me, and as a result of the work I placed into it, even when my family was alive, I was able to convince them of the hypocrisy to the point where when I was in my twenties, they admitted to me how relieved they were that a big production for my then very young daughter was not needed and/or necessary. Nowadays, with my remaining biological family consisting of my daughter and remaining sister - each of who have been converted to not celebrating imperialist holidays (my daughter was not raised that way. We told her from the beginning that there was no Santa Claus and that the Western Hemisphere was land stolen from the Indigenous peoples), we all only discuss how to avoid the contradictions each year. Yet, since neither of them lives in California, I certainly find myself subjected to the social pressure of spending so much of my time alone this time of year. Please recognize and understand that my decision each year to avoid a lot of social interaction isn't because I don't get offers to have it. Most revolutionaries within this reactionary society learn early on how to be well grounded and genuine people. My experience is that others usually respect and want you around them. Still, I recognize that for a myriad of reasons, for many, this isn't a possibility. The challenge for me is I've decided years ago that I can be around people at other times of year, choosing to avoid the contradiction of being forced to endure customs and beliefs this time of year that literally turn my stomach. The challenge of course is the constant propaganda that pounds you 24/7 this time of year that you have to be a part of something (where lots of money is being spent of course). On some limited levels, I've come to accept and even embrace the loneliness. And, I've done much more with it that I'm hopeful will help those of you who wish to maintain your dignity and values while negotiating the isolation and accompanying loneliness.
As a result of all this struggle, I've developed what I believe to be healthy mechanisms to confront and combat the reoccurring feeling that I'm all alone in this world during this time of year. One thing I do annually in November is identify books that will inspire me. What inspires me is remembering that others have endured so much pain and suffering so that I could have a chance to exist and hopefully make a further contribution to making the world better. This realization has proven invaluable to me because its helped me contextualize whatever feelings of alienation I'm experiencing. This year (last Saturday), I picked up the autobiography of Albert Woodfox. He spent decades in one of the very worse prisons within the U.S. - the institution named Angola in Louisiana. Named for the fact it was a former slave plantation who's forced kidnapped laborers were from the West African country of Angola, this institution represents all of the horrors of incarceration and Woodfox's experience epitomizes those contradictions. The fact he was able to endure decades of solitary confinement in a prison who's main population housing was worse than most other institution's solitary confinement, Woodfox was able to maintain his balance by reaching deep down within himself, building on the revolutionary principles of humanism he learned within the Black Panther Party. His story stimulates me to keep moving forward. And, finding stories like his each year has helped me learn how to actually look forward to reading more and more stories like his, especially this time of year. This reaffirms that I'm not alone in how I move through the world which is a major blow to the constant feeling that we are insane for wanting something different. Something better.
Another practice that really helps me is planning to take time off work in order to do things that I want to do during this time. Obviously, this will vary from person to person, and many of us have limited resources in what we can do, but for me these things include everything from camping at Hot Springs to driving to Yosemite to going to the all you can eat buffet in Reno, Nevada, U.S. Typically, I have no one else to do these things with and I think the mistake most people make is in waiting until there is someone you can do things with. I've grown quite comfortable going on my own. Especially after I've permitted myself to relax with the knowledge that one day I may have someone to do these things with, but until then, there is absolutely no reason why I need to wait. At first, it can be awkward a little to sit in Hot Springs, without clothing on, alone, but despite the fact I practically never have conversations with anyone while I'm there, I've learned to take my good book(s) I'm reading and enjoy hours there in my own world. If money is an issue, there are many things still that you can do. Dancing in places with no cover charges, even if you dance alone is joyful. Listening to music, even without dancing. I go into places all the time that have music centers and spending no more than $5 I can fill the establishment with the music that inspires me and makes me feel great.
A third thing I do quite a bit of is writing during this time of year. Writing for me is therapy of the highest order. This is the reason I'm constantly encouraging people to disregard whatever obstacles that are keeping you from writing and just write. And you can write anything and it can help you feel better. For me, the power of either creating the world I want (fiction), or analyzing and offering alternatives to the real world (non-fiction), its all reaffirming and extremely powerful. I'll even go as far as to say its the most reaffirming thing I've discovered in my life, even when people disagree with what I'm writing, it still has an impact. Even if no one else besides you sees it e.g. journal writing, its still a very powerful tool.
Finally, I take this time of year to reaffirm healthy practices e.g. what I'm eating and the necessity to prioritize my daily physical workouts to ensure my goals are being achieved in each area. What I find all of these things do for me, whether I'm sitting alone in a coffee shop (as I am as I write this), singing karaoke by myself, or making the drive to the Hot Springs an adventure, I'm reaffirming my value to myself. That act alone does so much to combat the alienation. In fact, I never do any of the things I've identified here and walk away after sorry I indulged. Actually, I feel empowered with my approach.
None of this is to suggest that you should avoid get togethers. Social interaction is essential in an alienating society. As long as you aren't forced to be in toxic environments. The point here is if you disagree with the hypocrisy of imperialist holidays, dig out some space to honor that by taking care of yourself. You may have completely different ways of doing that then the ones I've identified that work for me and that's wonderful. Just make sure whatever you are doing isn't something that reinforces the concept that you are alone because something is wrong with you e.g. drinking alcohol alone, etc. Whatever you choose to do, it should reaffirm your value as you are, faults and inconsistencies along with everything else. If you approach your process like that, you will probably find that you begin utilizing this time to figure out ways to work through those faults and I assure you that nothing will start making you feel better than engaging those types of things.
Remember, there is an old African proverb that "even a dead fish can go with the current." None of this is an attack against holiday get togethers, even imperialist inspired ones. For most people, these events are their way of escaping the daily horrors of capitalism and no one understands that better than those of us who are engaged in a fight to destroy capitalism. The purpose of this piece is to reinforce with those who it applies that you may be like me in the sense that the accompanying values that come with efforts to escape capitalism are equally as painful for you than the imperialist gatherings themselves. For those of you who that perspective applies to, figure out how to protect yourself. Its important because you are important. Too many wonderful people suffer from depression and/or decide to end their physical existence this time of year for me to act as if this isn't a real issue.