Everywhere I look I’m bombarded with reminders of the impending holidays: Pumpkins, Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas trees, glittery dresses. Don’t get me wrong, I love a pumpkin spice latte once on the first cool morning in October—not August and not every day for the next four months. That leftover turkey sandwich when the house is quiet, the dishes are all done, and I’ve got a moment of peace to reflect on what I am grateful for—heaven. I love the holidays, but I’m overwhelmed by all the effort that goes into hosting the relatives, buying the presents, decorating, cooking, and attending every obligatory event. If you’re anything like me, you’re already precariously balancing a life packed to the seams. But fear not, there is hope. After many years of trial and error, I have stumbled upon the key to not only surviving but thriving through the holidays: found family, self-care, and cocktails.
Family. We all have one. Even the best of them can be hard to take November through January. There’s something better—found family. I had not heard of the term until recently. Mine calls itself Framily, a combination of friends and family, but I discovered there is a real term and trend of found family. These are the non-biologically related people you chose as your support system. I would not have been able to manage life, much less the holiday seasons, without mine. My framily is a group of people I have known for almost a decade. We can discuss politics, not agree with each other, but listen and learn. We’re there for each other through health issues, life issues, and job issues. No matter what we face we know a text to framily will bring an immediate response of love, truth, help, and compassion without the baggage of biological family. When one of us acts bitchy, we’re called out with honesty and sympathy. If one of us suffers a slight, we fearsomely defend. Having a found family means never being alone to face the good or bad. Having a group that will make dinner when you are caught late at the office and entertaining that evening. So, when I’ve lost my sanity and am a raving lunatic, rushing to buy the perfect gift for Aunt Gertrude while simultaneously finishing a work project and planning a holiday meal, they step in and talk me off the ledge, usually over a cocktail. There is a suggestion for the hard-to-please relative, shortcuts to pull off the meal, and a book suggestion with a not-so-subtle hint to take some self-care time. I can laugh at myself, reset, and stop driving everyone crazy. So, find your tribe, those people that unconditionally love and support you, yet keep you grounded and real.
Self-care is another component for surviving the holidays, though you should make it a regular part of your life. If you don’t value and care for yourself, how can others? You can’t be your best for your friends and family if you aren’t at your best. What it looks like is different for everyone. Massage, tea with a friend, bubble bath, whatever makes you feel good. For me, it’s taking time to sit, read, and recharge. Books are an affordable mini vacation. I am transported to different locations, lost in the story, and who doesn’t need that amid holiday parties, school events, relatives’ visits, and end-of-year work projects? There is a book to suit every mood. I, of course, highly recommend Holiday Shorts that just came out this week. As a contributing author, it has something for everyone— holiday-themed stories. There’s love, romance, exploration, fantasy, and lots of toe-curling sex. Whatever book or other self-care regimens you chose, just do it. Make it a priority. You will thank me.
To complete the survival strategy is a cocktail. Much like my main character, Devon, in “The Sugar Rim”, when I am in a stressful situation, my go-to drink is a lemon drop martini. Devon also has a found family, a group of co-workers from the zoo: Peggy, Joe and Felicia. She is a recent addition to a new area with a job she loves, and she wants to share her life with someone. She has a made an artform out of bad romantic decisions, and she no longer trusts her judgment. Her found family helps her craft her dating profile, and they are there to help with the predate jitters and all the ups and downs that come with new love interests. That, and a little help from a sugar-rimmed drink, gets Devon the love she desires.
That brings me to my favorite recipe for a lemon drop martini.
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice—I prefer a meyer lemon
- 2 ounces of vodka—Kettle One from the freezer for me
- ¾ ounce Cointreau—don’t substitute with triple sec
- ¾ ounce simple syrup—yes, I use store bought no matter how easy they say it is to make it
Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice. Turn on the soundtrack to the movie Cocktail and shake it like Tom Cruise. Take your martini glass, use a little of the left-over lemon juice to rim it with sugar. I love the sanding sugars for their colors and size.
- Pour the contents from the shaker into the beautifully sugar rimmed glass
- Sit in your favorite chair or spot
- Put your feet up
- Close your eyes,
- Inhale the citrus scents wafting from your beverage
- Take a sip
- Enjoy the cool, tart, slightly sweet beverage
You are now ready to face whatever holiday challenge comes your way.
I would love to hear about how you cope with holiday stress, your found family, or your favorite drink recipe. Drop a comment for a chance to win a free copy of “Holiday Shorts.” Winner will be chosen within 48 hours.
Thank you, Delilah for the opportunity to share my survival guide with your lovely readers. Here’s to a fun, fantastic 2022 Holiday season.