Crafting Chosen Family Traditions Can Help Dispel Holiday Blues


A client once told me a story about how she learned to deal with her holiday-related loneliness and depression. Once upon a time, this client (let’s call her Sara) fell in love with a man…and a woman. She married the man, and kept the girlfriend (with her husband’s consent and approval). At one point, they all lived together and considered themselves to married to each other, even though that sort of marriage could not yet be legally recognized. Unfortunately, Sara’s parents and siblings could not accept that Sara was bisexual and polyamorous and forbade her from bringing her girlfriend to any family functions. So Sara decided to forego all family functions altogether.

Holiday Depression is Common for LGBT People

We’ve just passed the holiday at which we’re supposed to count our blessings and give thanks, and we’re entering the holiday season during which we’re expected to spend time with and buy presents for our families, and yet so many of us who identify as LGBT are not free to be ourselves at home with our birth families. Many of us are not welcome at home, or at least not with our chosen partner(s). What ought to be a time of warmth and belonging winds up, too often, being a time of loneliness and depression.

When Family Won’t Accept You, Create Your Own

Eventually Sara got pregnant and had a child. She felt badly about depriving her son of his extended family, especially since neither her husband nor her wife had much family themselves. So Sara made a new decision. She would attend some family functions with her son, but without either of her partners. And then her core family created their own traditions around “chosen family.” These traditions also welcomed other members of their friendship circles they felt particularly close to, especially those others who were also without accepting birth families of their own.

You, too, can choose to create a holiday event that provides an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance for you and all of your friends who are either without family altogether or find spending time with their families to be more stressful than relaxing.

Decide who you’d like to include in your new holiday event, and invite them each to contribute an idea to incorporate into the new tradition. This idea could be the favorite part of their own family’s traditional celebration, or perhaps something they’ve heard about from another tradition that they always longed to experience. Maybe John has always thought the Jewish dreidel game was fun, and Ginger feels like Christmas morning just isn’t the same without cinnamon rolls and mulled cider. Allen remembers stringing popcorn together to drape on the tree. One day, your children and those of your friends will fondly remember the new traditions that you and your chosen family create today.

Make it Your Own, Bond With Your Chosen Family

You can make this as diverse and multicultural a tradition as you like. It’s YOUR unique and personal holiday celebration, and inviting your chosen family members to help create it with you binds you all more tightly together. Eventually, the remorse and sadness you may feel about your birth family will ease and may pass altogether. Someday, you may be able to fully accept that their choices are their own, while you choose to celebrate all the wonderful chosen family you have surrounded yourself with!

About Inara de Luna

Inara de Luna is a bisexual, polyamorous, kinky pagan who is also a Relationship Coach and a Sexuality Educator. She is a Gender, Sexuality & Relationship Diversity Specialist, with training and experience as a Marriage & Family Therapist. Inara is a sex positive activist, a published author, and a national presenter. She prefers to support those whose identities fall outside the mainstream norms. For more information, you can find her online at or on FacebookK/a>.