[updated for 2019]
Having bed bugs during the holiday season is hard.
Harder than just having bed bugs.
Everything becomes more complicated and expensive! You have to get some kind of treatment, whether it’s professional or D.I.Y, and you still feel the pressure to buy gifts and food. Maybe there is an expectation you will entertain, and meanwhile your house may temporarily look like you’re planning to move.
Your wardrobe may be limited because you are having treatment, and you might be worried about spreading them to your friends and family. Or maybe your family is uncomfortable with you coming over while your home is still infested.
There are so many combinations you might encounter, and I haven’t even brought up the usual stress and pressure of expectations, family stress that almost everyone experiences at some point during the holidays.
And then there is the money you’re spending on bed bugs.
Bed bugs take money to get rid of. Whether you are having heat treatment or a professional pest company in to help, or if you are doing a Do It Yourself bed bug treatment, it costs money. You can’t afford to save up for treatment, it has to happen as quickly as possible because of the bed bug rapid reproductive cycle.
Maybe you have had to go into credit card debt or borrow money for treatment, and you are really feeling that strain. Or maybe savings earmarked for the holidays or a vacation have now been used to get rid of your bed bug infestation. No one is happy about that. It’s not fair, and it’s stressful.
I know that when ever I have been the holiday hostess, there has been at least one moment where I felt stress at having all the extra tasks done, the groceries and cooking timed right, worrying about the happiness of others, it’s pretty common and human.
I want to suggest that you look realistically at your energy level and finances. If you are keeping the bed bugs a secret from friends or family you can still keep doing that. It’s ok to keep it a secret and it’s ok to tell. That is up to you and your individual circumstances. No one but you knows which is in your best interest. Sometimes you might not know either and that’s also ok, because YOU ARE TIRED.
This can be one year where you wait to see what others want to do. If you are always the go to holiday hostess, your family might not want to change holiday traditions. We can understand that. Those rituals are deeply meaningful for some people. Maybe they are to you too. Gathering together once a year may be the most connection some of us have with our families. Expectations can be a hard obstacle to overcome.
But you can say, this year I need to take a break. You can say that. You can say, you have a lot going on, are tired, are caught in a de-cluttering purge, are getting rid of some things and your house is a disaster. You can also choose to share the ugly details, that you have bed bugs. That will usually convince even the most diehard family member that it might be a good idea to change it up this year.
I’m not suggesting you lie, but I won’t judge you if you do. I’ve provided some diversionary suggestions above. Not lies, but not a full reveal.
What about gifts when you have bed bugs?
That is going to depend on your particular economic situation. If you typically buy gifts and can afford to, do it. But be careful about not allowing the gifts or wrapping paper to be exposed to where bed bugs could accidentally find their way in to.
You could also decide to make gifts to a charity in the name of others. Or make hand-made gifts, which might not be realistic either when you have bed bugs. Most people aren’t feeling very crafty when they are battling bed bugs.
It’s hard when a family has a tradition of exchanging gifts. You can’t easily just opt out. It feels weird, awkward, and uncomfortable. Some options for gifts that are easy and affordable are:
- Magazine subscriptions to topics people are interested in
- Donations to charities
- Simple kitchen gadgets
- Gift baskets shipped directly
- Speciality foods in an inexpensive dollar store xmas stocking
- Gift certificates
- Gift cards
The goal = Survive the holidays
The best gift will be when your bed bug infestation is gone. There aren’t many “situations” that require so much time and effort to solve. Having bed bugs take so much time, money and energy to get rid of, it’s different than other types of problems.
However you choose to deal with the holiday season during your infestation, you will get through it. Try to consciously make it easier for yourself by simplifying whatever you can. Remember to practice taking care of yourself, whether it’s a long hot soak in the tub, or grabbing some fast food instead of cooking. Make it easier on yourself this year.
And try to remember to give thanks for the things that are not bed bugs, like friends, family, health, kittens, chocolate, whatever you can find no matter how small, to give some thanks for. It might be a challenge. You might feel frustrated, defeated, resentful and exhausted. It might be hard to find anything to be grateful for right now.
Maybe the next time you are awake in the wee hours, try to focus your attention on one thing you are grateful for. I know it sounds cliché, but I think it helps, and it sure can’t hurt.
For now, have the best holiday you can and here’s looking to a bed bug free New Year.
Having bed bugs is awful. Having bed bugs during Christmas or any very social holiday is worse.
Suddenly you are faced with a host of issues and ethics you could avoid when it was just bed bugs and you. Now other people could be affected. What do you do?
Let’s backtrack a little and acknowledge the ugly underbelly of the holidays in general.
- People have very specific expectations about other people during the holidays. Maybe your family expects you to host Christmas or another holiday, even a birthday party.
- People go temporarily crazy during the holidays and don’t want to let people down.
- People can be judgy or dramatic, really dramatic, even to the point of making any problem about them.
I am not saying there is anyone in your family or universe like that, but there ARE people like that and holidays, weddings and funerals tend to exaggerate whatever personality quirks, insecurities or narcissistic tendencies people have.
So your first dilemma is do you tell? Do you share with your family (unless you have already done so) that you have bed bugs and are/aren’t comfortable with having people stay or visit the house.
You might be comfortable and confident you have the problem isolated and if that is the case, carry on!
However if you are not emotionally and physically up for having company while you are dealing with either preparation or treatment, what are your options during the holidays.
- Make reservations and meet at a restaurant.
- Have another family member host the holiday.
- Skip the holiday altogether. Explain your issue and that you are exhausted and are worried about your health and the holiday is just too much this year.
Remember: You are not responsible for how other people react to what you say. You are responsible for your actions and words, but not how others react and act.
If someone gets upset because you cannot participate this year it is because their expectations are not coming true. Ideally, your family would be sympathetic; however we must remember that having bed bugs is sort of like having an illness.
No one can really know what it’s like to have bed bugs unless they have.
Remember also, that having bed bugs is temporary and in the future you will not have them anymore. If you follow all the precautions, treatment and preparation you will eventually be bed bug free.
Is it inconvenient – yes. But it’s not the end of the world, just the beginning of the end of bed bugs in your life.
Happy New Year