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How to Cope with Un-Merry Holidays

How do we Build a Family? 

What does family mean to you? To many folks, that word brings up a lot of complicated and conflicting emotions. In some instances, family means the people who will stick with you no matter what, and show up for you when you need them. This is a deep bond of love. But in any relationship that lasts for years, there is conflict. The unhealed parts of ourselves rub up against each other, and can cause harm. In order for any relationship to maintain long term, there must be either open and honest communication that leads to everyone’s needs being met, or certain people in the relationship suppress their truth and live in the pain of being continually hurt by other people. Sometimes the people that we stick with and show up for are our biological family, and sometimes, when our truth isn’t compatible with the life that our biological family wants to live, we build a chosen family. And if we’re very fortunate, we get to have both. 


The holidays can be a tough time for many folks as it’s perhaps one of the only times of year when family comes together in a big way, which brings us into contact with people who may not accept us as thoroughly as the people we spend our day to day lives with. It can also be a joyous time as it’s a celebration of coming together with people we love who we don’t get to see frequently. 


Editor Bio:

Edmund Green Langdell (they/them) is an ever becoming enby, whose work focuses on promoting human and environmental wellbeing through design and education. They work for Play Out Apparel as a Marketing Assistant. They strive to spread love and healing in the world through connection and education. They also design eco-friendly needle felted packers. They earned a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design, where they worked as a Peer Health Advocate for four years, and created and led Gender Venting, a group for transgender students.


Author Bio:

Edmund Green Langdell (they/them) is an ever becoming enby, whose work focuses on promoting human and environmental wellbeing through design and education. They work for Play Out Apparel as a Marketing Assistant. They strive to spread love and healing in the world through connection and education. They also design eco-friendly needle felted packers. They earned a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design, where they worked as a Peer Health Advocate for four years, and created and led Gender Venting, a group for transgender students.



How do we Build a Family

What does family mean to you? To many folks, that word brings up a lot of complicated and conflicting emotions. In some instances, family means the people who will stick with you no matter what, and show up for you when you need them. This is a deep bond of love. But in any relationship that lasts for years, there is conflict. The unhealed parts of ourselves rub up against each other, and can cause harm. In order for any relationship to maintain long term, there must be either open and honest communication that leads to everyone’s needs being met, or certain people in the relationship suppress their truth and live in the pain of being continually hurt by other people. Sometimes the people that we stick with and show up for are our biological family, and sometimes, when our truth isn’t compatible with the life that our biological family wants to live, we build a chosen family. And if we’re very fortunate, we get to have both. 


The holidays can be a tough time for many folks as it’s perhaps one of the only times of year when family comes together in a big way, which brings us into contact with people who may not accept us as thoroughly as the people we spend our day to day lives with. It can also be a joyous time as it’s a celebration of coming together with people we love who we don’t get to see frequently. 



"Coach K" and "Mama Nikki"

Play Out Apparel had two Instagram lives where we talked about how to navigate the holidays. In one, I chatted with Kalyela Josephs, also known as Coach K, about the intersection of queerness and spirituality, how to find love and acceptance within ourselves, and setting boundaries with biological family so that we can continue to have a loving relationship with them. Kalyela Josephs is a spiritual life coach who guides the LGBTQ community to experience love and peace with their spirituality and sexuality. In the other instagram live, I chatted with DJ Nikki Jax about both chosen and biological family, living a life of kindness, and bringing people together. Nikki Jax, known to some as “Mama Nikki,” has a large chosen family, who she frequently hosts meals and events for, creating a sense of belonging and home for people who had lost that elsewhere. Both of these conversations (still available to watch on our instagram) were such a delight to have, as both Kalyela Josephs and Nikki Jax are kind and openhearted people who devote much of their time and energy to helping others find peace, love, and belonging. Below are a couple highlights from these conversations, as well as Kalyela’s, Nikki’s, and my Play Out Apparel holiday wish lists. 

Advice from Kalyela Josephs

In the Instagram live with Kalyela Josephs, she gave some beautiful advice on how to navigate this time if who you are is difficult for your family to see or to love. She talked about boundaries, and gave an example of language you can use when communicating your needs to family members. 


“It took a process where mom had to come to a level of acceptance, but things that I did in the interim because I wanted to spend time with my family was around having that conversation with her ahead of time. Like ‘Hey, you know that I’m coming home. It bothers me, and it affects me when you talk to me that way, or when you don’t look at me, or you just kind of make me feel this way.’ And just gain that line of agreement like ‘If it’s gonna be this, then I’d rather not come.’” Setting boundaries can be scary, and messy, and it can go in a way we didn’t anticipate. It’s important to remember that boundaries are a gift that you are offering someone because you are showing them what it looks like to be in a kind and communicative relationship, and it is often a way of saying “I love you. I want you in my life. Here’s how we can stay connected while I stay kind to myself.”


Kalyela Josephs’ Play Out Apparel holiday wishlist:

• The Emrie Hoodie

• The Moto Performance Sweatpants


The Emrie Hoodie and Moto Performance Sweatpants are a matching set that have delectably soft and cozy fabric! Perfect for snuggling up with a cup of your favorite hot drink on a chilly winter day, or for cooling down after a sweaty workout. 


Advice from Nikki JaX

In the Instagram live with Nikki Jax, she shared how the tradition of hosting holidays dinners, and her weekly gatherings began with her chosen family:


“I have my Happy Transgiving. In fact, I try to do something on every holiday. And why? Well, I am a trans woman … and sadly, and my story is not alone, I’ve had to break ties with some of the life that I had before. And it kind of culminated a while back where I was having a holiday dinner by myself. And I cried! Like it was so intense. And I swore that I would never do it again. And I also kind of realized that I’m not the only one. 


Like, I live a blessed life. Right? I have an amazing job that puts me in amazing places. I have the support of, even just in my workplace alone, my company … And listen, I’m not rich, but I live pretty nice. I’ve got a place. I’ve got a bed. I’ve got food. It’s warm. ... So if I am this distraught over being alone, and I can change my situation, I need to extend this to others. … And what does it take? It takes nothing to throw a dinner and invite some people over. It doesn’t. I spend a little bit of money, but for me there’s a joy in it. Again, I’m Mama Nikki, so Mama loves cooking, all day with a little apron on. … Nobody should be alone on the holidays. Nobody, for no reason. And I don’t need to know you. All I need to know is that you come to my house with an open heart and a good appetite, and we’ll spend some time, I’ll get to know you, maybe I’ll never meet you again. But what a blessing, for that little time, that we crossed paths. What a blessing that is!”


DJ Nikki Jax’s Play Out Apparel holiday wishlist:

•The Kris Print “No Genders - Just Style” Sleeveless Crop Top

•Flat Front Leggings - Black with Red & Lilo Print 


The Kris Print “No Genders - Just Style” Sleeveless Crop Top is one that I own, and it has the softest, most comfortable fabric! It’s definitely one of my favorites! Nikki Jax said about the Kris Print, “LOVE THIS PRINT!!! You should do a whole suit outfit in just this pattern.” I also own the Flat Front Leggings - Black with Red & Lilo Print, and they are my go-to yoga bottoms for my morning yoga. So comfy! 

A Word from the Editor

In this season of giving, it’s wonderful to be able to show up for others with generosity! And it’s also important to remember that we deserve to be generous with ourselves too. We deserve to treat ourselves with kindness. And learning how to be kind to ourselves helps us learn how to be kind to others. In the spirit of self compassion, my gift to myself this holiday season will be The Maxine Dress - Burgundy with Gold Flecks. This dress brings me SO much joy and euphoria! When I came out as trans, I got rid of all my dresses because at the time they gave me dysphoria. Now that I’ve physically transitioned to a point where I’m comfortable in my body, and have cultivated enough self love to live fully as nonbinary, I’ve been wanting to have a dress again. The Maxine Dress will be my first since coming out as nonbinary, and I’m so excited for it!


How will you connect with people this holiday season? How will you take care of yourself? How will you spread love and kindness? How will you be open and generous with the ones you call family? And how will this openness and generosity include being as kind to yourself as you’re able to?


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