This Holiday: Remember the Elur Nedlog!

I don’t think people talk nearly enough about the Elur Nedlog. True, I never talked about it myself until it occurred to me a couple of months ago, but that is no excuse! The Elur Nedlog is the Golden Rule spelled backwards. Where the Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the Elur Nedlog says, “Don’t do unto yourself anything you wouldn’t do unto someone else.” I think the sentiment has to run both ways. That’s just math.

So especially in this season—this festive holiday fairyland strewn with its festive holiday fairylandmines—I plan to hang onto the Elur Nedlog the way your cat would hang onto you if you took it out for a nice ocean swim. Before I do any little thing unto myself, I’m going to ask if I would ever, ever do that thing unto a random other person.

I don’t mean my loved ones, here. I’m way more impatient and demanding toward my loved ones than toward strangers. No, the Elur Nedlog has to apply to everyone. Like your favorite celebrity. Like the Dalai Lama, or Malala Yousafzai, or Baby Jesus—what the heck, Jesus at any age.

Here are some things I would never ask any of these people to do, even though I customarily do them to myself each and every December:

  • Make them go to a holiday event that has a proven history of making them want to jump off a bridge.
  • Require false cheer from them even if they’re feeling sad or anxious.
  • Insist that they give all their loved ones perfect gifts at the perfect moment with the perfect presentation.
  • Hate them for eating too much.
  • Insist that they spend money they don’t really have to please people they don’t really like.
  • Demand high activity from them when they’re tired.

Just the thought of not doing any of these things to myself seems radical. Scandalous! Which sort of proves I’ve been breaking the Elur Nedlog right, left, and center. Enough, I say! I’m going to make this my first Elur Nedlog holiday ever. If I can. If I can’t, I’ll cut myself a little slack even on that. Because not to do so would be to break the Elur Nedlog yet again.

3 replies
  1. Jennifer Kirby
    Jennifer Kirby says:

    I really like this post. It reminds me of a recent article by Elizabeth Gilbert in O Magazine about how her mother would change the sheets on the bed before heading out on a trip because her mother (in the 3rd person) would like to return home to a fresh bed. She was treating herself like she would a friend. I've been thinking about this concept as I try to not over-schedule myself and not eat a bunch of junk over the holidays. Thank you for writing this!

  2. Katriona Sporkmann
    Katriona Sporkmann says:

    This year I'm exploring how I feel about Christmas. I never realised before how much my mother's anxiety surrounding it affected me. Yesterday, while she was advising me again not to get too stressed, not to overspend /overeat /over give, I realised those are her feelings. I'm actually quite enjoying myself. I've overspent. A little. Overeaten. Quite a lot . I find I'm ok with that. At 50, I may just enjoy my very first Christmas.

  3. Alice Selby
    Alice Selby says:

    I just finished Expecting Adam and Leaving the Saints. I enjoyed both books. I am astounded at all you have been through and accomplished in your life. I wasn't raised in the Mormon church . I only know what I've read in recent books and online searches. I truly hope you have found peace in your life for all that has happened to you. I was raised in an evangelical Christian church as a ministers daughter. Very strict . We were a reflection of our fathers ministry and an example to every member of the congregation. Perfection was expected. Thankfully , leaving that denomination did not make us shunned by our family or the church, as my siblings and I grew up and found our own way to God. As I get older I am constantly amazed at what God is trying to teach me about love and acceptance. I hope your children find a relationship with God that is personal to them and that life brings blessings to all of you.


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