Surviving the Holidays When You Don’t Celebrate!


It is the most wonderful time of the year and there is no denying that but many forget that not all are in celebration. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I feel like I have to walk around with a constant disclaimer pinned to my forehead during the holiday season about not celebrating. I know, I know just like many others, you are probably wondering why.


After many years of being taught the whitewashed version of Thanksgiving, you know the one where the “pilgrims” invite the Natives for a feast of togetherness, we decided to just skip the holiday. Because in actuality, Thanksgiving is not about gratitude, family, or feasting, it remembers the Pequot War and most sadly the Pequot Massacre. Massacre meaning a genocide of more than 700 Pequot Natives, because they did not want to be colonized. Thanksgiving was meant to celebrate the victories against the Natives. Please read more by conducting a simple google search or reading I Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving….

I am NOT sorry for not wanting my family to honor genocide. Also, we give gratitude daily and spend ample amounts of time celebrating our family, so we do not need a day to be told to do so.


This is one is very simple; we are not Christian so we do not celebrate Christmas. Although we are not Christian, we are not atheists. Our family practices are closely related to that of Buddhism, but we are in the midst of researching and exploring many religions and spiritualities, not affirming that we have to be attached to any form of organized religion.

Now onto surviving the holidays, which is why you are reading:

The first step to surviving the holidays is to communicate with your loved ones about your lack of participation. Since you are establishing communication, you are in control of the discussion, which helps eliminate any bombardment.

  1. Create dialogue among your family(ies) and friends about opting out of holiday celebrations.

  2. Expect pushback and exaggerated opinions, but do not allow your views and feelings to be dismissed or disrespected.

  3. After creating the dialogue and engaging in discussions, if it results in unhealthy discussions, remove yourself.

  4. Set clear boundaries and stand firm.

The focus here is creating and honoring your boundaries. If you need more help in creating your own boundaries, then Just Say No: Setting Boundaries During the Holidays is a great read that can definitely provide the help you seek.

The second step to surviving the holidays is dealing with the public. Remember to not take anything personally; many are living in their own privilege, meaning they are unaware of your own beliefs.

  1.  When met with a holiday greeting, do not feel pressured to reply. In the words of Penguins of Madagascar, “Smile and wave.” 

  2.  When walking into any establishment, remember it is consumer based. The décor and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” is not a personal attack. “Smile and wave.”

Step one is all you really need for the public, because it is not personal.

The third step to surviving the holidays is to take the “holi” out of the day by living the day as you normally would. This survival holiday guide is not meant to push you into being a Grinch or Scrooge but to show that you can live in the season and not retreat to your home because of your lack of belief. Look at these holidays as extra days to indulge in whatever you really want to do, even if it is a weeks worth of Netflix binging.

For Thanksgiving, we treat it as an extra weekend day. Our first date took place on Thanksgiving at the movies. We have kept this going, and now it is a family tradition to sleep in, eat dinner (homecooked or restaurant), and go to the movies for the latest film. Aria and Drew do not seem to acknowledge Thanksgiving too much. We have not had many conversations with them about it because they have not asked; they think we do not celebrate because we do not eat turkey (vegetarian). Lol. Once the time comes and they ask, we will talk about it more in depth. Also, we usually do not take any calls from family. What usually starts out as, “I miss you,” and, “Wish you were here,” quickly turns into dismissive and disrespectful language. That is a lot of nope. We will not go back and forth with anyone about our decisions.

Although Christmas is only a day, it seems like a month long. This holiday is also a bit trickier to maneuver through with tiny children, because they are the real targets of all of the Christmas marketing and promotions. We have explained why we do not celebrate and they are as understanding as children can be. Their main concern was doing the “fun things,” the winter-related (snow) activities. We are really fortunate that Aria and Drew are not consumed with receiving gifts. Throughout the month of December, we participate in many seasonal activities, like ice skating, indoor campfires, etc. On the actual day, it is a repeat of what we do on Thanksgiving: food, movies, and no answering family calls.

The key to surviving the holidays is living the days as your family normally would. No fuss.


  1. Thank you Niki for this wonderfully written post! My family also doesn’t celebrate most holidays so it’s great to have steps in mind for not only helping myself but my children.

    • Thank you, Cailyn, for reading. It’s great to have a plan to continue make memories that is most truest to your own values because we do get bombarded with mainstream way of how to do celebrations.

  2. I dislike the commercialization of holidays also. But reading your blog provoked sadness. Sadness for your family that it’s your way only. That your principles are so much more inportant than just being with your extended family for special celebrations that they cherish.

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