The Holiday Season. Winter. Christmastime, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s. All of it. It’s here again (or will be within weeks).
People are stringing lights across the eaves of their houses, smothering their front yard bushes and trees under ropes of brilliant bulbs of color, tiny fairy lights and large luminosities of red and green, Nativity scenes and Menorahs. Stockings are hung from the mantle or the chimney (or from stocking holders placed on shelves if you live in South Florida, because we don’t have mantles and chimneys), toy trains and holiday villages brighten up hallways and front rooms while trees sparkle and bow beneath their weight of lights, tinsel and decorations. Ugly Christmas and Holiday sweaters make their limited engagement appearances. Millions flock to Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Holidays Around the World, and festive dining experiences.
It’s the most magical time of the year.
It’s my favorite time of the year. From the day after Thanksgiving (when I begin playing Christmas music) until Christmas night, those glorious, wonderful 31 days are when I’m happiest, each year. Attempting once again (and probably once again, failing) to compose and send out cards to those who are special to me, letting them know I’m thinking of them – all year long, but especially now – by the 2nd week of December. Searching for the best bargains on items from family members’ Christmas lists so I won’t go broke…again…
Christmas parties and luncheons, the annual church Christmas concert and children’s drama that always surprises and delights. The joy of finding that special gift for a member of my family, or a friend; imagining the pleasure on their faces when they open those gifts I’ve painstakingly wrapped in beautiful paper and ribbon. Decorating the tree while watching Christmas movies. And the Christmas movies! There are new ones each year to enjoy and ones from years gone by that have become favorites.
All of this I look forward to each year. Something magical about peace on earth, good will toward men.
But there’s a dark side.
These 31 days are also some of the most depressing days of the year for me and so many other people living with depression. There’s a bitter-sweetness to the celebrating and expressions of love and joy. Perhaps it’s because we struggle to feel the same wonder and carefree happiness that so many others seem to feel; perhaps it’s because we feel a lack within ourselves – a lack of family or friends or significant other(s), someone with whom to share the joy; or perhaps it’s because there lurks beneath it all the understanding that this won’t last; after the New Year, most of us will go back to our everyday lives that magic never touches, good will and peace will be left at the curb with our dead and dying trees, and churlishness will accompany the deconstruction of all those pretty lights, trains and holiday villages. Back in the boxes, sheds and attics go our decorations and ugly holiday sweaters – at least the ones that survived kittens and puppies and toddlers – to save for next season. And so, apparently, do our belief in magic, joy and goodwill toward our neighbors. (Now THAT’S a depression thought.)
That’s part of it, sure. But for me, another part of the depression is old-fashioned self-pity. I’m single (not alone, because I have family and good friends nearby, but single…there’s a difference, you know). For someone like me, a romantic who dives into Christmas/holiday stories and movies (almost all of which end in some form of Happily Ever After, aka HEA), and watches – teary-eyed – all of the Christmas commercials about family and love, being single at Christmastime is downright depressing at times. Especially this year. Why is this year different? Well, 3 young couples with whom I am friends got married this year. I’ve been privileged to watch ALL 3 romances begin and grow over the past few years, and to see them each begin their own HEA in holy matrimony, and watch them begin their lives together…well, it’s bittersweet. Also, perimenopause is rearing its uncomfortable, heightened estrogen, emotional trainwreck, night sweat-slicked head. And, no sex. Also, no snow. 😦
Changing things up.
So while this most magical time of year is my favorite…and I suffer depression more acutely at Christmastime than any other, I’ve changed things up a bit this year, to see if perhaps I can survive the rest of this year less depressed:
- I’ve not picked up one Christmas romance novel; instead, I’m reading the final book in an epic fantasy series (The Faithful and the Fallen series by UK author John Gwynne). I might be depressed at the end of the book, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be because the series is finished and not because I’m still single.
- I’m gathering all of my tax documents – medical bill payments, copays, charitable donations, etc. – updating my writing and editing income and expenses spreadsheet so I’ll be ready – early – for tax time.
- Keeping an eagle eye on my finances so I’ll be able to afford a nice birthday shin-dig for my son when he turns 16 (!!!!!!!!!!) in January.
- Making a plan (which includes pep-talks at myself) for exercise, healthy eating and a little weight loss after the holidays (I’m soooo not into depriving myself of all the holiday goodies), so I will have enough energy to enjoy myself on my planned birthday trip to Disney World mid-February, and look good while I’m there! 🙂
- Taking a little time each day to thank God for His blessings, and reflect upon all of the successes in my life (such as letting my son live another year – that’s a big one!).
So while this most magical time of year often means a deeper struggle with depression for me, I’m determined to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, revel in my independence and strength as a woman, and not dwell on the tiny, rather insignificant fact that I am single.
How about you? Is this your favorite time of year, and/or do you find yourself more depressed during the holiday season than any other time of year? If so, why?