It’s the holiday season. If you are like me, you have personalized ornaments and stockings in your storage bins waiting to be hung up. But, what do you do with personalized items when your child comes out as transgender? How do you navigate the holiday season when there are so many decisions to make? What do you do when you are so overwhelmed you aren’t sure what to do first?
It feels like a lot because it is.
The first holiday season after your child comes out brings a lot of change. With change comes a lot of feelings. It’s important to feel those feelings, whatever they may be. It’s perfectly normal to feel grief or sorrow. But don’t let those feelings get you stuck and unable to move forward. Sometimes just knowing where to start can be a big help.
Here are some things to think about. You have to decide for yourself what the best choice is for you and your family.
Every family has ornaments that are sentimental to them. You may have ornaments with your child’s name on them. Or maybe you have ornaments that your child made while they were in school. Those ornaments might have photos in them or their name written on them. You have several options for what you can do with these items.
- Have them re-done. Personalized ornaments can be re-created if you know where you purchased the ornament and it’s still being sold. You can have your child’s new name put on the ornament and then save the old one.
- Store them in a memory box. If the ornaments are meaningful to you and/or your child, you can save them.
- Dispose of them. If you are going to be buying new ornaments that reflect your child’s interests, you may not wish to keep a lot of older ones. You can go through and save a few special ones and get rid of the rest.
- Hang them on the tree. If your child is okay with their photo being on display, or the name is on the back or small on the front, don’t worry about it.
Personalized stockings are more difficult than ornaments because sometimes they are handmade. It can be hard to get a new stocking if the creator has passed away. So how do you navigate this challenge? You have a few options.
- If your stockings are store-bought and still available, you can buy a new one with your child’s new name.
- If your child hasn’t decided on a new name yet, you may wish to buy a plain stocking as a place holder.
- You may want to get all new stockings to match and have new names embroidered on them.
- An option I really like is to get all new plain stockings. Get initial ornaments and pin them to the top. This is good for children who haven’t gone through a legal name change yet (in case they change their mind on their name), or just for families in general. You never know when you will have a child who decides to change their name.
One of the things you don’t think of until it comes time to do it is how to sign your greeting cards. Do you put your child’s new name on the card? What if people don’t know they have changed their name yet? Does that mean you will have to field questions you aren’t ready to answer? And what if your child isn’t out socially yet? These are all valid questions.
There are a few ways to handle this:
- Sign your name and your spouse/partner’s name (if you have one) and then write “and kids.”
- Just sign your last name – “The Smiths.”
- Sign your family’s name – “The Smith family.”
- Skip the cards this year. No one says you have to send them.
The first thing you have to do is decide where to start. You can pick what feels hardest and start there. Or you can choose what feels easiest and do that first. The important thing is that you don’t stay stuck and let that keep you from moving forward.
And if all of this feels like too much this year, skip it.
There are no rules that say you have to do anything you don’t want to. Maybe it all feels too new and too raw, and you wait until next year. You get to set your own pace and decide when the time is right for you and your family. And if the time feels wrong, forcing it will make it feel worse.
So remember that change is hard. Be kind to yourself. Don’t tackle all of these things at one time. Or even on the same day. Maybe not even in the same week. Make sure to make time for self-care before and after completing these tasks. And don’t forget that it’s okay to be sad.
What are you struggling with about the holidays this year? Tell me in the comments.