I’m Not Always Cheerful During the Holidays
It’s here. The ads. The lights. The jingles.
The winter holidays? Already? Yes, they’re starting. Where I live, it has already snowed, and people have asked if I started shopping for gifts.
The holidays are always a tough time for me. I get seasonal affective disorder, which usually hits me like a sock filled with quarters. Many people get winter blues, but it doesn’t send them into therapy.
Part of the problem is that it’s hard to be sad when you know you’re supposed to feel happy. People sing “Joy to the World” and urge you to be merry.
It’s also really, really hard to get excited about buying stuff when you’re broke.
I know there’s a lot to like about the holidays. Peppermint candies, cookies, pie! But there’s a lot to dislike. There’s a lot of pressure for everything to be perfect.
Not surprisingly, stress is a common cause of the holiday blues.
It’s not just the expectations that can wear you down. Other things that can help your mood, like exercise and seeing the sun, get harder to do as the days grow shorter and temperatures drop.
When I was a kid, Christmas was the best holiday. You get time off from school, and gifts! And I hope it’s still that way for kids.
But the holidays as an adult are a drag. I’ve grown to hate shopping for, and receiving, gifts. There’s just too much pressure around everything.
The season feels way too commercialized. And you can’t escape from it. Every commercial seems to remind you that people will love you more if you buy them gifts. Just buy them an SUV with a huge bow on it. That’ll prove your love.
But our lives aren’t commercials. Our desires don’t fit neatly into boxes tied up with pretty ribbons and bows. We’re all different.
I was reading a book recently, and the author gave an example of a low point as eating cheap tacos alone. I was like, Excuse me? That’s my idea of a good time. It has all the elements:
- No one bothering me.
- Cheap. Tacos.
Similarly, eggnog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone thinks snow is magical. Some people don’t frolic, and when we try to wrap gifts, they end up looking like they tumbled off a cliff.
One way I cope throughout the season is to focus on helping others. The holidays are traditionally a time when a lot of people pull out their checkbooks for their favorite charities.
Last year, I donated to an animal shelter. In the summer, they sent out a pamphlet of what they used donors' money for. One was an incubator. They used it to save a litter of kittens that were born prematurely. How cool is that?
Keep your “joy to the world.” Sometimes, our joy is so small, we can hold in the palm of our hand. But if that keeps us going, it’s enough.