Ask Wy

December 2021

Hi Wy! I'm kinda struggling with the holidays. Everyone else seems to love them but I feel nervous every year. Do you have any advice?

I'm really sorry to hear that you don't love the holidays. Also though, I hear that a lot. Some people love the winter holidays. They fill the time with friends and family and food for dogs. And humans, I guess. Like mom. She loves to decorate and bake and this year she bought us all advent calendars with treats to have every day! There's even one for the cat which is weird but ok, I suppose. I don't think the cat cares to be honest. But I digress. Mom works hard to make the winter holidays safe and happy in our house. Unfortunately, that's not everyone's experience. Sometimes we have unhappy holidays. Sometimes we have experiences that don't feel safe. Sometimes we have family that argue and fight. Sometimes there's not someone working hard to make the winter holidays safe and happy. And sometimes we feel sad or anxious and we don't know why even though everything looks like it should be good. That's all ok! It is ok to feel how you feel. It is also ok if you need to be the person who makes the holidays safe and happy for you. That might look like setting limits on how much time you spend with some people. Or it might look like staying home with hot chocolate and a movie and pets for a good dog. It might also look like reaching out for help from a friend or from a therapist like my mom. It is really ok to feel how you feel and to set boundaries where you need them to be. But if you're feeling badly and you're stuck there, please reach out to someone for help.

Dear Wy, I saw your post about the holidays. But how do I set boundaries with my family? I have to see them during the holidays, right?

Sometimes family can be stressful. My sister Calamity Jane is stressful. I don't think she means to be, but she's super anxious and pretty much loses it barking when the people in the trucks bring things to our house. That happens more during the holidays. She even barks and growls when they bring good smelling things. I don't get it. I love it when they bring good smelling things! But she doesn't do it on purpose. I set boundaries by going to another room where it is quiet and I can relax. I know that I can walk away and she'll calm down on her own. I don't need to be responsible for dealing with her feelings or her barking. It would be different if she was unkind to me though. Then healthy boundaries might look more like not being around her at all or only being around her for a specific amount of time. Like our cat. Jane is mean to our cat. She really, really wants to chase her and Dee really doesn't like that. So Dee Cat doesn't spend time around Jane. Even though she's my sister, I wouldn't spend time with her either if she hurt me on purpose. So no, I think we don't have to be around family for the holidays if they hurt us on purpose. And we don't have to consent to pets (I guess the human version would be hugs and kisses? I really hate hugs and kisses so I don't allow them myself.) from people we don't want pets from. Don't get me wrong, I love a good ear scratch, but it is ok for me to not want pets right now or from some people. Also, family is more than who we share blood with. I don't share blood with any of my family and we love one another. We all need people (and dogs!). Those people should be kind, caring people who are trying to be the best version of themselves. If they aren't, it is ok to not spend time with them.

Dear Wy, what are your thoughts on traditions? Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?

I love our traditions! In my family we have a Christmas Eve tradition where we all get treats (humans, too) and cuddle up to watch a movie in our pajamas. Jane and I get puppy popcorn from Poppingtons as our treat! We even get bandanas or scarves or something that matches the humans' pajamas. I love everything about that tradition! I love bandanas and I love cuddles and I really, really love popcorn! They throw it for us to catch. So much fun! Then we all go to bed early and Jane and I have special Christmas bones while the humans open presents the next morning. Stockings come last and we have more treats and toys in our stocking! I think our traditions are great because everyone belongs. But some families have traditions where everyone doesn't belong. I think those traditions are sad. To answer your question, I think traditions can be really special or they can be really hard. If your traditions are special, you should enjoy them. But if your family has traditions that exclude people or that make you feel bad, I think it is ok to reconsider if we want to continue those.

Hey Wy! Do you have a resolution for the new year?

Happy New Year! I don't really do the whole resolution for the new year thing. There are a few reasons for that. First, I'm a dog. I'm like Mary Poppins already (I'm practically perfect in every way). Second, mom says "more treats" isn't a resolution. And third, I'm not sure resolutions tied to one specific day of the year are the greatest thing. They work for some people, of course. But others find them defeating if they aren't able to meet them every single day of the new year. In our family we pick a word for the year instead of resolutions. The word is something we want to have more of in the new year. She still won't let me choose "treats" which is upsetting, really. So my word for 2022 is help. I'm hoping to help others more in 2022. What's your word?