Sad at Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not to all of us!

It’s supposed to be a joyous climax to another year. If we all made good on the resolutions we made with passion and zeal twelve months earlier, then hell yeah, we should be celebrating and prancing joyously! For many of us, however, the reality is much different.

Show me the money!

Did you know that right now, there are people still paying off debt incurred last Christmas? Yup. Between hosting family and friends, buying gifts, and decorating the house, the amount actually spent significantly exceeded the amount actually in hand. It’s hard not to fall into that spending trap, right? There are school things, office things, as well as children who NEED the latest gadgets. There are also parties that require you to buy new clothes, and God forbid that the house not be festooned with all-new candles and plants! Whew. I haven’t even touched on the additional groceries needed, “because it’s Christmas”. The reality of budgetary constraints is a huge pressure for many, sucking all the joy out of the season. Behind many a bright smile, is a mind furtively seeking solutions to the reality that is January, right around the corner.

Broke at Christmas meme
Christmas gifts
Spending at Christmas feels inevitable

Togetherness at Christmas

What is more difficult than navigating the festive season with your significant other, while your relationship is in the dumps? What is more painful than showing up solo – much to everyone’s surprise – because your significant other is MIA? How do you go through another season without waking up with your partner to exchange gifts together, because he’s with his family? When everyone is showing off the latest accomplishments of their children, what do you say about your own child, who is struggling, and simply not getting it together? Navigating the politics, the passive aggression of in-laws, and even exes, is stressful. Just anticipating it all, and coming up with a game plan, deflates even the strongest among us. This is the time of year when every single dysfunctional relationship is thrown into sharp relief. How can it not be, in the midst of all those touchy-feely adverts showing loving families moving in slow motion throughout the day, every hair in place, with smiles and hugs abounding? What about the ooey-gooey Hallmark movies that all end happily ever after? Plus, it’s Christmas, right? Love, love, and more love. If your relationships are not mirroring the spirit of the season, you feel stressed. You feel shame, pain, anger; everything, except peace, and goodwill. 

Dysfunctional Relationships at Christmas
Courtesy Honestly YA

Loss at Christmas

There are those who have lost loved ones; there are deceased parents, who used to be the nucleus around which Christmas revolved. Celebrating without them is difficult. Some of us have grown children who are off doing their own thing. They have their own families now, sometimes in faraway places. That’s sad, too. There are families who are forced to remember those who died by suicide; suicides, which happened in many cases, right in December. It feels as if the pressure to be bright and happy really magnifies what we consider to be imperfections in our own situations, and sadly, sometimes, it all becomes too much. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a thing, too. It’s a type of depression that’s linked to seasonal changes, and begins and ends at roughly the same times every year. People with SAD start experiencing symptoms around the start of the last quarter of the year, and they continue to experience them going into the winter months. Energy is sapped, and moodiness abounds.

Candles at Christmas
Courtesy Life in Pleasantville

This is your story!

Let US resist the urge to conform to some narrative handed down to us. It is December, not a go or no-go button in our lives. Let’s not expect things to dramatically change, because it is Christmas. This is our story; it is not the end of our story, it’s life. Life happens. Recognize that many among us are projecting only what they want us to see. That they too, may be experiencing loss, dysfunction, or budgetary issues. Resist the urge to play along. That’s too much work, which simply doesn’t feel good.

You don’t have to!

Here’s a list of things that you don’t have to do:

  • You don’t have to attend that dinner or that party where you know you’re going to be put down by the same person(s).
  • You don’t have to buy everyone a gift. No, really. You don’t. It’ll be awkward for this first year that you don’t, but you would have broken the cycle of yearly gift buying, so next year will be smooth sailing.
  • You don’t have to do all the work by yourself. Press your kids and significant others into action, but make your plan first! Identify specifically the help you need, and convene a meeting where you calmly and clearly make your requests, entertain feedback, as well as make compromises and establish expectations. Don’t wait until you’re neck deep in work and stress to start screaming and playing the martyr. C’mon…you’re better than that.

…And here’s what you CAN do

  • Identify ONE DAY that’s yours and yours alone. For me, it’s the day right after Christmas day. I do no work, I entertain no one. 
  • Schedule something enjoyable for YOU. I love to read, so I’ll be getting a nice juicy book that I can lose myself in. Maybe you’ll go to a movie, for a drive to look at the lights, or for a walk in the city. 
  • Keep moving. Schedule some exercise. Seriously. I don’t care if it is snowing where you are. Bundle up, lace up and step out. 30 minutes. That’s it. Feel free to thank me later.
  • Treat yourself. Now, I’ve lost a lot of weight doing keto. When I look in the mirror, it is too easy for me to eschew all the cake and chocolates that I won’t be having this Christmas. I will, however, have a low-carb cocktail (or three), and I will have a low-carb dessert here and there.  
  • Be grateful. In your quiet time, WRITE down everything in your life that you’re grateful for. Reflect. Think of the fact that you’re still standing. Think of what you’ve survived. Smile. If you don’t think you have quiet time, make it. Tell your family you’re having a bath, and lock that door. Call the office and tell your coworkers you’ll be three minutes late. Stop at the coffee shop on your way to work, sit there, and sip your coffee.
  • Get pretty. Now this may not work for you, but it works for me. Lipstick, combed hair and a nice blouse. Try it 🙂 
Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

I wish for you an enjoyable Christmas: filled with as much peace and joy as you can manage 🙂 Let’s focus on improving our LIVITY, not just at Christmas, but all year long. Livity is the mind-body connection that has us living in the present, coping with every challenge that arises, and enjoying every good moment that comes.

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