Beating the Christmas Blues

There’s an unrealistic image of holiday perfection that permeates our culture. Turn on the TV from December onwards and you are likely to be inundated with images of the perfect, affluent, nuclear family happily enjoying each other’s company during a holiday meal (of KFC). Some of us have memories from our childhood that feed this drive toward the nostalgia of holidays past. If we lived it, we want to replicate it every year. If we didn’t, we may feel we are missing out, and we may strive to create the perfect Christmas. This can be a recipe for feelings of failure.

The problem is – few of us can measure up to the fantasy images that we are exposed to from TV advertisements and Christmas blockbuster movies. These images of perfect families having the perfect holiday feed expectations that are impossible to meet. For one thing, today’s families are often a patchwork of children, step-children, step-in-laws, step-siblings and elders of varying degrees of relationship and health. Some of us are isolated or estranged from friends and family. Christmas can be a great time for forgiveness and reaching out, but some of us will still remain isolated over Christmas for reasons beyond out control. But that’s OK, because there are still things we can do alone to enjoy Christmas.

None of this stops has to stop our ability to enjoy Christmas. It’s just that sometimes we carry with us the memories or fantasies of holiday ideals that we strive to attain. Then, if we don’t feel we’ve succeeded, we can feel left out, disappointed, and like a failure. So it’s time to let go of our expectations about the perfect Christmas.

Christmas is a time for being giving and thankful. These are things we ALL CAN do. But generally, before we can be thankful, we have to come to some acceptance of where we are in life. Often that place isn’t where we would have chosen, but if we accept it, then we can work our way to some gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for. The fact that I am alive and breathing is one thing. The fact that the sun comes up every morning is another (and how beautiful it is to watch). Few people can say they have nothing to be grateful for. Finding something to be grateful about is a sure-fire way to beat the Christmas blues.

Feel like giving and cant afford it? Cant afford that new computer the kids want for Christmas, or a nice present for parents? Get creative. Send e-cards. Give the gift a photo, a drawing, a poem, a go-kart made out of scrap wood and metal. Remember – it’s the thought that counts. Take the kids on an exciting but affordable family holiday at a nearby campground. If you can’t manage that, simplify your Christmas expectations further. Forgive yourself for the lack of decorating, the on-line shopping, the skipped Christmas cards, if you can’t manage it. Indeed, congratulate yourself for your surviving another year.

Remember it is normal to feel sad and have grief over the holiday period – especially if you struggle being home from work. It is okay to cry and express your feelings to your friends. But try to have your friends around as much as possible and get involved in as many friend / work / community Christmas events that you can if it helps you to not feel left out. Try and reach out to other people find a social event or community/religious events.

Holidays don’t have to be perfect – maybe you can start a new tradition or ritual this year. And remember to get some and R & R. Take a walk or listen to music. Take a breather from the pressures you put on yourself and give yourself some time to just let go and put your worries on hold.

Take care over the holiday season and – if nothing else – try to LET go for a while.


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