Christmas is a favorite holiday for many, including myself. Every year, once Thanksgiving hits, I’m already searching for the perfect tree and bringing down all the decorations from the attic. I look forward to being in the Christmas spirit; listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts, decorating the tree. But this year felt different, and I couldn’t really figure out why.
After Thanksgiving passed, I found myself not ready to listen to Christmas music in the car, yet. My husband asked me if I wanted to pick out our Christmas tree and I kept making excuses to prolong the process; he eventually went out on his own and picked the tree alone. After some google searches, I realized that maybe I had a little case of “holiday depression.” I know, it almost sounds like an oxymoron. When we think of the word “holiday” some of us might also think about family, celebrations, parties, friends, and smiles. How can a holiday also be depressing?
According to an article on psycom.net, there’s a whole bunch of reasons someone might be feeling depressed around Christmas. One reason being that they may not be near family or friends for the holiday. It can feel pretty lonely having to celebrate a holiday alone. I can remember inviting a college friend over for Thanksgiving one year because her family was across the country in California. Not everyone may have family or friends to be with during the holidays, so the next best thing might be to get out of the house or change your schedule. “Resist the temptation to hunker down. Get up and get moving even if it’s only for a series of short excursions to your favorite café or bookstore. The goal is to be around people,” suggests the article.
Another reason we can feel depressed during Christmas is due to a loss of a loved one. Although time has helped me heal a little bit, it’s still difficult to get through Christmas every year without my grandmother. Certain traditions have fallen apart and certain things have changed, and that’s difficult to accept. This is also the first year I won’t have my dog with me for Christmas. He passed away in October. And I know that will be a difficult thing for me to get past this year. One way to deal with this is to create new traditions, hopefully ones that will make you remember your loved one, but also still feel happiness for the new tradition. New traditions can be fun!
Speaking of new traditions – that may be a good idea for those with changes to their schedules or changes in their households. Maybe it’s the first year that you, as a parent, won’t have any of your kids at your house due to them growing up with their own families. Maybe you are a newly married couple and you have to switch holidays with each family (that’s me right now). Looking forward to old traditions can get us excited, and it can make us sad when circumstances change those traditions. This will be the first year that my husband will not be celebrating Christmas Eve into Christmas morning with his family. He and I have been together for six years, and every year, we have spent Christmas Eve into Christmas morning with his family, and then Christmas day into Christmas night with my family. Talk about a lot of traveling! We decided we were no longer splitting up one holiday between two families, and the result is our first year with my parents for Christmas Eve. I know he’s feeling sad about it because there’s a lot of fun traditions that his family has been doing since he was born. And I joined into those traditions six years ago, so now we both don’t know exactly what to expect this Christmas. It can be depressing not to have traditions to look forward to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new traditions. Changing my perspective has now made me excited for this coming Christmas and excited to create new and fun traditions together as a family.
“Ultimately, beating the holiday blues is about staying ‘true to who you are’. That may mean saying ‘yes’ to parties and gathering, knowing that you can always leave if necessary. It means respecting your limits without succumbing to self-isolation. It means giving yourself credit for being as merry as you can. And, above all, it means recognizing and being grateful for all the little joys and moments of happiness in your life,” according to the article. I couldn’t think of better advice!