Oracle of Ybor: I'm walking through a winter worryland

Don't be a scrooge.

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click to enlarge Yuletide is still a time for gathering. - Photos via Salva/Adobe
Photos via Salva/Adobe
Yuletide is still a time for gathering.
Dear Oracle, as new parents, we’re excited to spend the holidays with our families and our baby. However, some holiday traditions (like long car rides) are difficult for our new family. How can I approach changing things up without hurting anyone’s feelings?—Walking Through A Winter Worryland

Cards: The Chariot, Seven of Pentacles, Three of Swords, Ten of Wands (reversed)

Dear Winter Worryland, let’s start with the bad news first: no matter what you say or how delicately you approach this situation, some of your family members will be upset. People are going to want to see that new baby and keep up with their traditions, logistics be damned.

The Three of Swords is a card of disappointments, and paired with the burdensome Ten of Wands reversed, you may need to steel yourself for uncomfortable conversations where people have hurt feelings. Of course, I encourage you to be tactful—disappointment is because they want to see you, not because they’re dicks—but feelings are going to be hurt, and there’s not much you can do about it.

The good news is that it’s worth having these conversations. As a new family, you’re actually in the position to start setting up your own traditions.
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The Seven of Pentacles is a card of both reflection and investment. What holiday traditions do you like? Are there any new traditions you want to try? Maybe you’ve always wanted to do a spirited reading of “A Christmas Carol” or maybe do a Maccabee-themed D&D campaign to defeat the Greeks for the first night of Hanukkah. Or perhaps you want to swap out the holiday dinner for a holiday brunch (babies and new parents have early bedtimes!)

Whatever it is, make your choice and go forth with confidence. The Chariot is here to help you plow through obstacles (like unintentional/intentional guilt trips) and will set you on the path to victory. The Chariot’s confidence is also influential—it’ll encourage people to hop on and go for the ride. So while people may hold onto their traditions tightly, they might follow your lead and let things slide, especially if it means seeing a cute baby.

It’s never fun to have awkward conversations (or potential fights) around the holidays, but you have to do this for your sanity and your family. Things will smooth out, I promise.

And if all else fails, dress your baby up in various holiday-themed costumes and send photos to everyone pitching sull. They can’t be mad while looking at a baby dressed like an itty bitty reindeer. Best of luck, my dear!

Dear Oracle, every year my office does a secret Santa for our holiday party. Every year, the majority of the staff buys gifts for everyone. It seems nice, but I feel like this pressures other people to spend more money on everyone and defeats the point. Should I cancel Secret Santa? Enforce a strict one-person-gift-giving policy?—Seriously, Not A Scrooge

Cards: Three of Pentacles, Judgment, King of Cups

Dear Non-Scrooge, if your employees want to give everyone gifts, they’re going to regardless of the official policy. Some people are just generous (or compulsive), so I doubt a formal rule will curtail that. However, consider taking a different approach this year. If you’re lucky enough to give bonuses, maybe do that at the holiday party. The Three of Pentacles is a recognition of work and artistry; paired with Judgment, a card of all-is-oneness, it might be nice for you to use the party to recognize everyone’s hard work.

Will some people still show up with gifts for everyone? Probably—you are all gathered in the same place—but by changing the dynamic from individual gift-givers to collective gift-receivers, it puts everyone on the same level. The workers are no longer guests but guests of honor. It’s their party!

As the King of Cups, I know you want to do right by your employees. I think it’s wise to take the pressure off people who might not want to buy gifts for their coworkers but also turn a blind eye to those that do. (As long as gifts are appropriate/not harassment in disguise.)

However you do it (bonuses, dinner, whatever), make sure it’s done with intention. The Judgment card is also one of understanding, so you want your employees to feel seen and valued. Putting in a year of hard work to get no formal recognition beyond a $20 gift card doesn’t make an employee feel particularly cherished.

At the party, you could give a small speech where you personally thank people (by name and deed) for all they’ve done. If public speaking is not your thing, a card with a thoughtful note might do the trick. However you go about it, let your employees know that you cherish them and couldn’t have done it without them. (But for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t do an office White Elephant. Nobody wants to be surrounded by coworkers and end up clutching a Santa suit penis sock.)

Dear Oracle, if I wanted to do something kind of witchy this yuletide season, what should I do?—Yuletide Spirit

Dear Yuletide, if you’re looking for a subtle spell, you can make a Yule log. You would take a log of firewood and after doing your cleansing of choice, adorn it. You can tie cotton ribbon to it, add sprigs of fir or holly, and write/draw symbols of what you wish for in the new year or just what you’re grateful for. Then on the solstice, burn it. If you don’t have access to a fire pit/fireplace, you could always bake a Yule Log (Bûche De Noël) and decorate it with edible things (fresh cranberries, rosemary) and write your intentions under/with frosting and enjoy.

Yuletide is still a time for gathering so you can also do either of the above as a group activity—I hope you threw a party on the 21st to rejoice in the return of the sun. Happy holidays, y’all!
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