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Lowering Our Expectations for the Holidays

For quite a few years in my past, I fell into the misery of the myth of the Christmas That Never Was. I’d dredge up some vague memory of warm and fuzzy feelings of getting together with my family and having super good times. Or I’d reminisce about New Year’s Eve with one of my several boyfriends and how romantic and delightful it was.

But the operative word here is myth. While there were some very nice moments sometimes, there were other holidays that were awful, where I drank or ate myself sick, where I was on the outs with the boyfriend, where my family was contentious or just withdrawn as we often were with each other. Plagued by cutesy movies and TV shows, we can build up the holidays into childhood memories of an enormous magical pageant of perfect gifts and perfect behavior that none of us can live up to.

These imagined holidays would be harmless if the discrepancy between what we’ve imagined and what actually happens wasn’t so disappointing. And when active food addicts are disappointed, we medicate ourselves with food and add guilt, shame, and self-loathing to the mix.

This year, I’m working on going with the flow. My birthday party was cancelled because of snow and ice. Our 4-day family get-together was also impacted by the weather. One sister couldn’t come at all; another could only come for a few hours. But it was fine. We had some good times, some okay times, a couple of tense moments. I let them come and go. And I stayed abstinent.

How can you go with the flow over the next few days?

Consider joining me on January 7 for a 3-hour workshop at New Renaissance Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. For information: or email me for details.

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