The Christmas Special

The podcast this time is all about how to make the festive season as consensual and self-caring as possible (once Justin got over laughing about our sleighbell sound-effects). We’re focusing on Christmas here because it is so omnipresent in our culture, but hopefully it’ll be of use when considering other religious festivals and family-focused events as well.

We started out by talking about this amazing blogpost by our friend/girlfriend Dr. Eleanor Janega which covers the history of Christmas. Did you know that the 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas Day? Did you also know that Christmas marks the beginning, not the middle, of Winter? These are all good reasons to go easy on ourselves around this time of year and spread the festivities over time rather than putting a lot of pressure on one day. Justin suggests considering whether you can celebrate all the different kinds of love over the festive season (see his Bish blogpost for a rundown of these, or our Relationship User Guide Zine).

Christmas is a time of non-consent for many of us, from inappropriate touch and conversation at office parties and dutiful family traditions, to unwanted presents and dealing with people who don’t respect our gender, relationships, or sexuality. Meg-John has written a post about how we might rewrite the rules of the festive season altogether, but if we do feel we have to go along with existing plans, how can we at least be consensual with ourselves, and draw boundaries around other people’s non-consensual behaviours? In the podcast we explore the following:

  • Building in plenty of time for processing microagressions and doing self-care
  • Having reciprocal arrangements with friends or family to let people know what’s inappropropriate
  • Practising a mantra to say if people do step over the line
  • Doing some meta-communication in the lead up to seeing people about how you – and they – want to do things
  • Arranging supportive conversations online or over the phone, or seeing supportive people, during the festive times

Here are some other materials you might find useful:

Harriet Lerner’s books about how to make, and hold, boundaries

Tania Glyde’s posts about surviving the festive season

Meg-John’s self-care zine

© Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock, 2017