Tis The Season

It is holiday time again in many parts of the world.  In the United States, we are 7 days away from Thanksgiving.  For those who are unaware, this is where we celebrate the pilgrims who were the first European settlers in this country.  It is a time when families usually get together and give thanks.  Of course, in a month we celebrate Christmas which is an equally festive time.

Not Total Happiness

For many this is not a joyous time of the year.  The imagery put out by the media companies often can put people in a state of deep depression.  Their holiday season simply does not match up to what is portrayed as the norm.  Many are separated, if not estranged, from family members.  This places a significant burden on them emotionally.  The feeling is that they are somehow "left out".  

Another problem with the holiday season is that, in many parts of the world, it became commercialized.  Christmas is a time for giving and the toy producers make sure you know it.  Each year there is a hot gift(s) that every kid has to have.  Anyone who does not get this is looked down upon when returning to school after the New Year.  And what parent wants to put his or her child in this position?  So, the credit cards come out and the spending begins.  That is for those who are able to.  Sadly, there are many who are in a financial position which will not allow this.  This evokes feelings of guilt and worthlessness.  Children can not understand.  Hence, the adult will feel less than joyous.

The final component that I will mention is the time change which occurs.  I realized tonight that it was getting dark at 5.  Within an hour, it was pitch black.  The days will continually get shorter (meaning less daylight) until December 21st.  For many, this increases the depression.  Couple this with the fact that many areas start to experience the cold and grayness of winter, and the joyous feeling is quickly extinguished.  Life is spent indoors away from the elements.  Exercise and other hobbies are cast aside.  


Any of these factors can cause someone to detest the holiday season.  At the far end, some can go into a state of depression which require treatment.  Obviously, anyone who is at this end of the spectrum should get the help needed.  For everyone else, read on.

So how do you go about beating the holiday blues?  I will start by sharing an interview I heard.  Years ago I met a man who interviewed Norman Rockwell's son.  For those who do not know, Norman Rockwell was the 20th century painter who is credited with capturing Americana on canvas.  His paintings depict American life in a simpler time when family was important and that closeness was shared.  What is of interest is when the interview was over, the guy I met ask Rockwell's son how nice it was to grow up in the Rockwell home.  The response is pretty telling.  He stated that what was shown in the paintings did not reflect his home like.  It turns out that Rockwell could be a bit moody and difficult to deal with.  In other words, the idea did not exist.

And that is part of the solution.  It is crucial to remember that the ideal does not exist.  People tend to judge their insides by the outsides of others.  What they see is what they believe to be true.  We all know that people are very good about covering up what happens in their homes.  While everything looks nice from the outside, under the roof it is sheer terror.  Just ask anyone who grew up or lived with an alcoholic.  Outer appearances are usually deceiving.

The other important thing to do is to be grateful for what is presently in your life.  It is easy for us to look at others with longing.  The truth is there is a lot of things you can be grateful for today.  To start, you are not dead.  While your life might not be exceptional, it beats the alternative.  If you are employed, no matter how crappy the job, be thankful you have it.  There are many people who are struggling and would like nothing more than to earn a paycheck.  The point is that you can look at the glass is almost totally empty or you can focus upon what is full.  Everyone has something to be grateful for.

If you are having a tough time with that, here is something else to remember.  The holidays do end.  January 2nd will be here before you know it.  For those who remember, baseball season ended 6 weeks ago.  That is the amount of time left until the new yearIt seems like just yesterday that the last pitch was thrown.  Time has a tendency to zip by.  In truth, the holiday season will be history very quickly.  

Finally, if you are down, go do something.  One of the best ways to get active is to do things for other people.  If you are suffering, help someone else.  There is a lot of power in taking the focus off your own woes.  Volunteer at a nursing home or go visit an elderly relative and you will have a new perspective on your life.  Many do not reach the end of their lives in terrific shape.  That will give you a good dose of "I would rather be me than them".  And that is what you are seeking, a shift in perspective. 

Always remember, feelings are not facts.  If you do not like how you feel, do something to alter that.  As hard as it is to believe, you are the one who chooses how you feel.     

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