I spoke with my daughter this morning about the holidays generally, and her plans, specifically.
She and her boyfriend alternate between coming home for Thanksgiving one year, then home for Christmas the next. Typically, when they stay home, they host a holiday dinner for their close friends.
Not so this year. For the first time in several years, they’ve decided to fix Christmas dinner just for themselves. She came to the realization that she can never truly relax and enjoy the day because of all of cooking, cleaning and entertaining involved.
Smart girl. When the holidays cease to bring at least a modicum of merriment, it’s time to do something different.
It’s an established fact that many people experience “the blues” at some point during the holidays, for quite a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common:
- Too much revelry. For many, the holidays are filled with excess — a lot of people eat and/or drink too much. But alcohol is a depressant, and can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety. Plus, hangovers are a bee-otch.
- Overspending. While we may bemoan the materialism that accompanies the season, we don’t HAVE to engage in it excessively. It’s important to remember that retailers are behind all of the hype around the holidays to better their bottom line, we don’t have to “buy into” it(wretched pun intended). Staying within a budget can ease the financial pressure tremendously.
- Negative memories. Not everyone has fond childhood memories of the holidays. A good friend of mine feels sad every time she hears some of the Christmas music that was popular when she was a child because of her alcoholic father. Bing’s “White Christmas” and Elvis’s “Blue” one take her back to the days when her father ruined the holidays because of his alcoholic rages. Her solution is to listen only to newer Christmas music only — finding different ways to simply “not go there” help her enjoy the holidays and focus on the memories she’s created with her own children.
- Lack of sunlight. Winter solstice is December 21, just four days before Christmas. The days are definitely shorter, and many people suffer from SAD as a result, according to Medicine.Net.
- Great expectations. The holidays will never be perfect. Ever. Expecting our homes to look like a Currier and Ives greeting cards or to expect our children to behave like perfect angels is a set-up for feelings of failure.
In a nutshell, it’s all about keeping everything in perspective. Some cultures actually celebrate Winter Solstice — not because it’s the shortest day of the year, per se, but because every day after that the days get just a little bit longer.