My Love/Hate Relationship With The Holidays

A picture I took at my dad’s house last Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow, as most of you might know, is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  We celebrate by gathering with family and friends and eat until we tear the lining of our stomachs (not really, but it certainly feels like that).  It’s a time for people to basically stuff their faces in the name of holiday.  

Most people look at this as a time to get really excited about being with family and eating great food, maybe watching the game, or if you’re like me, sneaking drinks from the flask in your jacket pocket…

For someone who struggles with anxiety, namely OCD, and who has a phobia of the dreaded “v” word that rhymes with comet, then the holidays are not quite as fun as they might be for someone else, who doesn’t have anxiety.

The holidays, particularly Thanksgiving in Christmas because they are during the cold months, for me are not something I always look forward to.  They combine my two biggest issues: people and eating, sometimes eating with hands.  Of course I like to see my family, well most of them anyway, I just have issues with a lot of the tradition in general.

I really, really dislike eating with a lot of other people around and sharing food with others makes it even more difficult.  The idea that someone is has touched the serving spoon and could be carrying an illness that they have yet to show symptoms of, is one that is quite overwhelming to me.  It absolutely terrifies me in fact.  The notion that someone could be harboring an illness is constantly on my mind.  I’m not even kidding you, CONSTANTLY.  There’s rarely a moment in my life that goes by that my thoughts are not consumed by thoughts of protecting myself from illness and avoiding possible contamination.  I never ever put my hands near my face, especially my mouth.  I avoid communal finger foods like the plague (no pun intended).  These are just some of the things I do to “protect” myself.

Needless to say, tomorrow will be kind of stressful for me.  My cousins are coming and they always seem to have some sort of disease.  They gross me out.  I will try to get in line before them to get my food.

Does anyone else struggle with this time of year?

Anyway, I hope everyone has a very lovely, healthy Thanksgiving 🙂

Thank you for reading.




61 thoughts on “My Love/Hate Relationship With The Holidays

  1. I just reblogged what I wished the world was like by another person who gets it. 365 should be our motto and should be, until the last of hopelessness vanishes. I am reclusive in large part because I do not like crowds. Honestly I would just want to be in a small group celebrating instead of people that I hardly know, especially when I realize, this is just once a year.

  2. When I lived near my family I always looked forward to our get togethers, but someone always ended up in a fight, or should I say two people would. I miss them all like crazy during holidays, but it is probably a good thing since I began having serious problems with anxiety and panic back in 1995! I only had my parents near me at that time and we just would go there for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. I do NOT like being around people I do not know and that gets my anxiety started big time. I can relate to your worries of becoming sick from others who never seem to wash their hands and like to pick their noses, etc. Hang in there girl, I hope you have a stress and anxiety free day!

  3. Happy Thanksgiving. I’m not American and have never celebrated, but I do recognise your struggles at times of celebration (particularly Christmas). I hope you have a good, healthy Thanksgiving and manage to protect yourself however you need to to have a good, safe time.

    Love Bec

  4. Holidays are a struggle with me. Especially, when it comes to be ask to try a food that I am not use to. I am very picky on what I eat plus I do not like when it comes to the mixing of foods together.

  5. I’m currently dealing with baking stress. Meaning my mom and mom-in-law asked me to make a pie to bring for each dinner and well I’ve never made one before. Let alone two!! So I’m a little stressed out that they may be horrible. Good luck tomorrow!

  6. Take your own serving spoon and tongs and use them to serve yourself exclusively and go armed with lots of toothpicks for finger food. Make yourself busy in the kitchen plunging a pick or fork into all the bite sized pieces so that everyone has to pick up the food using a toothpick. You can get some really groovy little plastic forks now. They get used for the novelty factor! Look for them in your supermarket. They could be your contribution to the festivities. I understand how you feel. Buffet or ‘trough eating’ as I call it, at restaurants tends to gross me out, too. Are your family aware of the stress you face? If so, they will understand. Perhaps they would even let you dish up your plate before you all get to the table. If not, make a joke or a game out of having your own serving utensils. They’ll probably be so busy sizing up what they’re going to eat they won’t even notice anyway. Holidays are stressful, you are not alone in that. Good luck 🙂

    1. those are some good ideas 🙂 my mom was hosting it so she actually made sure that I was first to get my food. she has OCD too, so she totally understands. it was better than anticipated 🙂

  7. I click “like,” but I don’t like what you have to endure during the holidays with your fear of becoming ill. It must be horrendous for you. Is there some way you could take your plate and retire to a room by yourself to eat? I send you best wishes and blessings that your holidays will be safe ones for you in every way.

  8. I generally find eating around others really awkward and off-putting so although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I am dreading Christmas lunch. I like to be in control of what I am eating and hate the idea of not knowing what is in everything and if people adhere to the sames rules of hygiene as I do.

  9. I suppose it can be said that there are different types of struggles. Sometimes, we can’t label what they are. But, there they are. All of my girls – 3 – have some type of mental issue. Oh, did I mention my husband has it too. Sooo .. do I struggle during this time of year. Yes ..!!!
    I can so relate to your OCD. I could see the germs as you decribed the different issues.
    Happy Thanksgiving ..!!!!

    1. I’m glad yet sad that you can relate. It’s no fun living with a mental illness and some days are worse than others. hope your holidays are bright for you and your family 🙂

  10. Hoping the best for you tomorrow. You are not alone in your struggles. I would feel much better about Thanksgiving if it was just about giving thanks—with small groups of people. Sitting on the floor.

  11. Well i do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Do have Christmas and hate it but that is another story. As for struggle. i never think of that. We got doctors unless you dislike them to.
    people overstuffing is just stupid behaviour. I agree there. and that comet rhyming word is something that comes after.
    Keep smiling. You can do this. have a chester clothing near you, try it.
    Have a good Thanksgiving.

  12. I used to hate the holidays. Long boring visits with an ex wife’s family. I am not a good chatter and I’d,be watching the clock all day. It would take 3 hours to finally get her and the kids in the car to leave,…

    Still not all that partial to them, but they are better!

    Somehow I unfollowed you! But I am back!

  13. Ah, yes. The OCD side of me has enough trouble with family gatherings (though I’m no longer invited, so there’s that). However, one of the heights of OCD fear for me (besides being in an elevator with someone who sneezes) is a potluck with, say, coworkers. I joke about it (saying that if I haven’t personally inspected your kitchen, then I don’t eat your food), so people think it’s one of my ‘endearing quirks.’ Little do they know that it’s so deeply rooted in fear. You aren’t alone! Happy Holidays to you.

    1. I try to do that too. I think it makes me unique and I think a lot of people find my personality pretty funny 🙂 Most of the times I’m not even trying to joke, but am serious 🙂 I’m glad you can share this.

  14. Hi and Happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope you are surviving it alright. I get a bit anxious around people and food – but not so much the sharing bit (although I do try and avoid that) but more to do with the difficulty I have in eating in company. I loathe people eating near me, and I cannot eat with people because I eat too fast (to get it over with) and end up choking!

  15. Hey Megan…not many struggles this year, with just the wife and I. Timing came out good, too, even if the pies were a little too juicy. I got to have dessert before work, though, read my poem, THANKSGIVING EVENING REPAST…to see though, what I took to work with me! We be praying for you! Does Chester get a special treat??????

  16. I certainly struggle in the cold, dark winter months. That’s around July for me. Coming into our summer now, looking forward to the warmer temperatures and lots of sunshine (usually too much actually). So Christmas will be warm, and it is good to catch up with the extended family every year, even if I have to bring my own special food.

  17. Hi Megan,

    I hope you enjoyed your thanksgiving. It is a time when people do get food poisoning and so your anxiety is sensible, but maybe a little exaggerated. I’m British so we tend to have turkey at Christmas and don’t celebrate thanksgiving, but it is still a time when people get food poisoning because the turkey wasn’t cooked right. I like turkey and chicken and so the solution to the problem for me was simple, learn to cook! I also understand how bacteria multiply and produce toxins so can avoid food poisoning which would probably prove fatal for me because I have digestive problems. I share your need to avoid eating with others, but in my case I just feel more anxious and make too much stomach acid and so get indigestion. So I prefer to eat alone.

    Anyway, have a great Christmas. Looking forward to something is a good way to reduce anxiety.

  18. Megan, I hear you loud and clear! In addition, I prefer to do the cooking myself. I get irritated when people ask to help (except my husband, he is great with me in the kitchen.), even my mom irritates me in the kitchen. I like my food prepared a particular way, I have an order of how things need to be done, I don’t like people being underfoot. My hair is long, down to my waist, therefore I have to pin it up when I cook, even if just for myself…no explanation needed, right? My mom has short hair, it falls out all the time, everywhere. Drives me nuts, get out of my kitchen!

    But we all survived, dinner was enjoyable, I hope yours was too!


    1. Thanks for sharing Lauri 🙂 I’m glad you can understand this! It’s not easy to have anxiety like this and it’s only slightly justified. I have long hair too and it gets in the way all the time. I hate finding hair 😦

  19. Hope your Thanksgiving went okay for you. Thanks for the good wishes, too. I do have a love/hate relationship with holidays myself. Mostly because of all the commercialism that happens. But I enjoy the times spent with my two adult kids. I can understand about big gatherings and “germs” especially during the fall/winter months. I was never told I had OCD, but I completely am picky about washing my hands often. I have to keep lotion nearby so I don’t get dried out hands. I also really like my own food prepared more than restaurants and always have. I was told I was a picky little girl, but I like to think I am just “me”. Take care. Sincerely, Connie

    1. I wash my hands often too, Connie. Too much actually and it takes up quite a bit of my time. I have gotten used to washing and then using lotion, otherwise my hands just get too dry. I’m glad you can understand me 🙂

  20. I never thought about the holiday season as a particularly difficult time for someone with OCD, but of course now after your description I totally see it! I completely relate to having a love/hate relationship to the holiday, though for a different reason. With an eating disorder this time of the year is not exactly easy, either… There’s so much food – good food, and it seems stupid not to enjoy it, but it’s not that simple. I love all the Christmas lights, the decorations (well, as long as it’s not too over-decorated), the quality time with family and friends; but at the same time it feels a bit hypocritical, like everyone is suddenly becoming all “good” in order to appease their conscience (I’m not excluding myself there). It’s similar with the beginning of the new year: I appreciate the opportunity to look back on the past months and set new goals, or renew old ones if necessary; yet it makes me a bit sad to see the things that have ended, to realize how fast time passes…

  21. Megan, I love your honest and relatable posts! I’m pleased with how well I handled Thanksgiving considering the OCD and all. I think preparation and getting centered was most of it. My OCD flares up more when I’m stressed, usually unrelated to what I’m actually stressed about so I pulled out all the stops to mentally prepare myself last month. I have bad anxiety about being in cars with other people and other people driving and getting carsick. So yeah, carpooling and stuff is no walk in the park for me. I just gotta get through the rest of December and I’ll be good for a while I hope! I’m also going to my mom’s bf’s house who doesn’t wash his hands, ugh, so I will be stockpiling the hand sanitizers. Thank goodness we aren’t actually eating over there. I wouldn’t bother going! lol

    1. I’m glad to hear that THanksgiving went well for you. It is never easy for me either, so I know some of what you were feeling. Ugh, your mom’s boyfriend not washing his hands. I’m so sorry 😦 That’s gross.

  22. Hey, thank you so much for checking out my blog 🙂 I can relate a lot to this, in my own way, because I often feel detached when family is around, and because I find it difficult to eat in general. By the way, Chester is beautiful! Keep up the good work with your blogging 🙂

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