If you grew up celebrating Christmas, the holiday that used to bring you unbridled joy may now bring a big ol' dollop of mixed emotions. When we were kids, Christmas was less complicated. After all, what can top the idea of a benevolent, costumed, bearded man leaving gifts while you sleep? (Hmm, come to think of it, that sounds like something a gay man dreamed up.) But if you're like me, somewhere along the way, Christmas stopped being so easy. Note: if you're totally stoked about the holidays this year, this entry doesn't apply to you: go have a cup of eggnog or something.
My own mixed feelings about Christmas have to do with divorce, with people I miss, and with various types of guilt. For others of you, it has to do with a falling out with your parents, or with the death of someone you love, or with the frustration of having to pretend to be someone you're not. These aren't exactly thoughts you can bring up at the office holiday party. Instead, they're the kind of things that hit you when you're in line at the drugstore at 9:30 pm with a box of Red Vines in one hand and a bottle of zin in the other (just hypothetically, of course), and "The Little Drummer Boy" starts blaring from the store speakers, and--BOOM--a wave of Holiday Depression.
The first thing to know about Holiday Depression is that you're not alone. Lots of people deal with it; they just don't talk about it. The second thing to know about Holiday Depression is that it passes. Don't let yourself think that your unhappiness during the holidays is somehow symbolic of the shortcomings of your life more generally. Because this is not true. Holidays are the time of year when the highest number of people report feeling depressed. You will feel a hell of a lot better in January. I promise.
A few quick fixes for dealing with a sudden wallop of Holiday Depression:
- Lay on the couch. Put your headphones on and listen to the least holiday-ish music you can think of. Angry, not sad. I recommend Tool, Rage Against the Machine, or whatever the current equivalent of that stuff is.
- Open up Pandora and create a "Suzanne Westenhoefer" station. Listen.
- Start planning a trip for somewhere you're going to go in 2012.
- Write to me. Ask me anything. Or tell me something you don't feel like telling anyone else.
- Do a project that involves plants or animals. Personally, I love paperwhites, and they're only about $1 each for the bulbs. You can grow them in anything and it's mesmerizing.
- Buy yourself a new watch, or some other stylish thing that you will look awesome in. My DGF (and others) call this "shopping therapy."
- Clean your whole house. Rearrange stuff that's been bothering you. It will distract you, let your mind wander, and make you feel like you accomplished something.
- Go for a walk or a run--anything that gets you outdoors. Don't come back until you're exhausted. Then take a nice hot shower.
These are only temporary fixes, but sometimes a quick fix is all we need to get us over the hump. So let's hear from you: Do you ever get hit with Holiday Depression? And what do you do about it?