Blah, blah, blah.
Christmas is wonderful for some people, and more power to them. But for some, for many, Christmas is an ordeal.
It's something to be endured.
It's a survival situation.
Does this strike a chord in you? Does something in all the gaiety grab at your heart and give you a choking feeling?
Do the popular, sentimental carols raise a wave of darkness?
Is Christmas shopping something you dread...not because of the crowds, but because you know that all the glitter and flash and bustle will leave you feeling cold and empty...and you can't even explain why?
And do you feel alone, unwilling to seek help from friends and family because you don't want to rain on their Christmas Parade?
If so, you're not alone. More people than you know - millions - feel the way you do.
And there are some things you can do...
- Know this - it is not your fault, or your doing. No one has the right to make you feel guilty.
- Ditch to sentimental music. If certain carols make you sad, don;t listen to them. If it's the radio...change the station. If your spouse puts on a CD - ask that it be changed. It doesn't matter that the songs are pretty and traditional. It doesn't matter that they were your parents' favorites. They are not helping you now.
- Shop online. You don't owe it to anyone to make yourself feel worse by going to the mall, so don't. If you do your grocery shopping at a 'big-box' store, consider switching to a dedicated grocery store like Albertson's or Kroger for the duration.
- Cut back on commitments. If you don;t want to go to parties, politely decline invitations. You won't become an outcast, at least not among people who really care about you.
- Cut back on decorating. Decorations can be freighted with memories and tradition, and these frequently trigger depression. If you have to put something up to keep peace in the family, consider buying a new, simplified set.
- Drop the PJ tradition. If you do the present-opening ritual while wearing pajamas, consider getting dressed immediately you wake up. PJs are comfortable, yes, but lounging around in them is not empowering. It sucks energy and vitality from you when you need it most.
- Don't explain. Follow the 'Mary Poppins' rule - "I never explain anything". Explaining the changes you're making can easily turn into a perceived need to justify them, and puts you on the defensive. Just make the changes, and keep the talk to "I decided to do it this way because I prefer it".
Perhaps the most challenging situation is when you have a spouse who's really into Christmas traditions - and you want to go from November to January, directly. In this case you have to violate the "don't explain" guideline, and be forthright about exactly how the holidays affect you. And then you have to be ready for your spouse's efforts, well meaning they may be, to "fix it".
Resist that, because you're not broken.
You're just you, and you have the right to happiness.
Even at Christmas.