This is a pretty cliche thing to ask, but at the end of your life what do you want to remember about the holidays?
There are so many things that society judges fat people for doing. We become convinced that we can’t or shouldn’t … and deep down that we’re not worthy of doing whatever it is. And society especially reinforces this message during the holidays, when we really ramp up the fatphobia, diet talk, and idealization of the heteropatriarchal nuclear family. We end up missing out on a lot of opportunities because we believe they’re not actually available to us (and in some cases, they’re not).
But I want this year to be different for you. This year I’m encouraging you to find ways to enjoy your holiday season in spite of everything society (and any “well-meaning” concern trolls) tells you.
Because at the end of my life I don’t want to think about the calories, the judgment, or the fact that I’m conspicuously absent from all my family’s holiday photos. I want to think about the experiences, the memories we created together, and the way it felt to spend time with people I enjoy. I want to think about the laughter, warmth, and love, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to let anyone take that from me.
So, without further ado, here are 6 of my favorite holiday traditions!
Six Holiday Traditions You Absolutely Shouldn’t Miss Out On Because Of Your Size Or Weight
1. Bourbon Balls & Hot Spiced Cider
Or whatever your favorite holiday treat and beverage happen to be.
It’s really unfortunate that any time there’s food around there’s almost always a chance of diet and bad-body talk, too. Especially if it’s good food, you know? Because we think that to enjoy good food we’re being “bad”, as if there’s some kind of moral high ground in consuming nothing but reduced fat lettuce.
This is pretty much the only time of year my family makes rum and bourbon balls, and they are ah-mazing. The rich sweetness of chocolate followed by the sharp bite of liquor… so freaking good. They’re easy to make but they take a while, so they’re a special treat for us.
And yet I can remember many years in the past when I would limit myself because they were “empty calories” or “too many points”. I still remember how many points a bourbon ball is, and that’s extremely disturbing. Why am I using my mental energy to remember such an idiotic fact?!
I’m pretty sure that, at the end of my life, I’m not going to be thinking about the nutritional value of my food. I’m going to be thinking about licking the mixer paddle while Dad dips the freshly-rolled balls in melted chocolate, and laughter fills the kitchen. And the way one of my kid cousins once ate so many rum balls that he got a little tipsy.
This year, instead of focusing on how many points or calories or whatever is in your holiday treats, focus on the amazing tastes, and the way food can bring people together!
2. Family Photos
A lot of people like to take photos around the holidays. And I know – I know! – your instinct might be to stay out of the frame or hide at the back of the group. But don’t do it!
Family photos are meant to capture memories, and you are part of those memories. You don’t have to be a certain size to be photo-worthy. You also don’t need to make yourself up to look “presentable”, whatever that means to you. You deserve to be part of those photos just by being a member of your amazing (sometimes infuriating) family.
So hand the camera over to someone else this year, at least for a few minutes, and be part of the memories you’re making.
3. Playing With Your Kids
It’s an interesting (i.e. ridiculous) contradiction: fat people are supposed to work constantly to make themselves smaller, but at the same time are ridiculed for moving their bodies. Especially if it’s just for fun.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when a fat person is more reserved with their movements or refuses to take part in an activity. Because we’re so damn used to being made fun of when we do!
But that desire for self-preservation is also keeping you from enjoying fun activities with the kids, like playing outside in the snow. Or having a holiday music dance party in the living room. It’s keeping you from making fun memories for yourself and them!
You don’t have to do anything you aren’t going to enjoy (you probably won’t find me playing in the snow because WET + COLD), but don’t be afraid to play with your kids. They don’t care what shape your body is!
4. Chunky, Cozy, Oversized Sweaters & Leggings As Pants
This might sound silly (or maybe all too familiar), but I used to avoid wearing any type of clothing that might make me look… fat.
Which is ridiculous, really, because I’m pretty sure I already look fat. It’s not the kind of thing you can trick people on, regardless of what the fashion industry would have you believe. And the entire idea that we need to hide what our bodies look like is bullshit, anyway. It’s just one more way that fat bodies are policed on a regular basis.
This meant that I used to avoid all kinds of warm things like chunky, cozy sweaters and poofy winter parkas. I always went for the more “flattering” options (fuck flattering), and those suckers are never as warm! Let me take a moment to remind you that I live in Michigan.
I also used to avoid a lot of super comfortable clothes for the same reason. Things like leggings and sweatpants. So I’ve spent a lot of winters pretending I can make myself look smaller by freezing my ass off in uncomfortable clothes.
Trying to meet society’s expectations is exhausting.
5. Singing Holiday Songs
I’ve kind of always been afraid of sticking out, in pretty much anyway. And that’s often extended to singing, despite the fact that I love to sing.
I’ve come to understand that this is part of my fear of taking up space. It’s part of my tendency to try to make myself small and unnoticeable so that no one will look at my fat self. This is something I’m still working on, so I’m not going to pretend like it’s easy.
But we have just as much of a right to enjoy singing holiday songs as anyone else. It doesn’t even matter if you have a “good” voice. Sing in the middle of the grocery store if you want to, and screw anyone who looks at you cross-eyed.
Just sing, and enjoy!
6. Spending Time With Family & Friends
You miss out on a lot of time with family and friends when you’re focusing on weight loss. Sometimes it’s because you “have” to spend that time working out, or you avoid going to an event because you know you’ll be too tempted by the food and drink. Other times you’re physically present, but you’re so focused on what you’re eating (or not eating) that you don’t have a chance to actually enjoy the company. Either way, you’re missing out.
So go to the party, focus on the company, and try to let yourself relax. You’re going to be okay.
You might also like: What’s Really Wrong With Your Holiday Diet (And How To Fix It)
And with that, I wish you good luck. This is your year to enjoy the holidays and create some amazing memories. Don’t let anyone take that away from you!