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When You’re Just Not In the Mood…for a “Happy” Holiday


Not feeling it this season?  Started getting depressed as soon as you saw the Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween?

It’s not because you’re famous for being able to give the Grinch a run for his money. You can get by most of the time without people thinking your heart is two sizes too small.

It’s just that once we all get into the “Happy Holiday!” swing of things, people are going to start expecting that you be, well….happy.

But you might not be feeling happy, merry, jolly, or anything else usually associated with the holidays.

Happy Holiday Mood Busters…

You may be recently separated or divorced or widowed…spending your first holiday season without your partner, his/her family, or your own kids.

You may be dealing with a severe medical diagnosis that forces you to think about your symptoms, medications, prognosis, and huge medical costs.

You may have recently lost someone important to you, or this time of year just highlights for you that you have lost someone important to you.  The holidays for many people are about friends and family…and we miss those who are not with us keenly at this time.

And if you struggle with depression, anxiety, addictions, or an eating disorder….the holidays can feel like you’re running a tinsel-covered gauntlet.  In slow-motion.  With someone forcing you to run with bells on.

And this is only one source of good-old Holiday Stress.


Another major source of stress is all the STUFF that comes with the season.  There’s all the stuff that needs to be bought, charged or paid for, wrapped, cooked, baked, decorated, lit, attended, drunk, eaten, and put up with.  Not necessarily in that order.

There’s the cleaning, the entertaining, the office parties with required attendance (I don’t think this should get to count as a party, but I digress), the holiday concerts, the family get-togethers.  Feeling any holiday stress yet?  No?

The question of whether to send or not to send holiday greeting cards, with or without the photo of the smiling family, with or without the family letter update.  With or without holiday stamps. And personalized holiday address labels.  Okay…even I just managed to stress out on that one.

There’s the pressure of gift-giving, gift-buying, and gift-receiving.  So much STUFF!!!  And somebody’s gotta pay for all that stuff.

I’m Dreaming of a Perfect Christmas…

There’s the stress you can feel at the holidays because you’re trying to recreate your holidays from the past, or from your childhood.  Except you live within different circumstances than your parents or grandparents did…you have to take into account that you may not have the time, hands, or resources to recreate something you remember.

Or instead of trying to recreate what you had, you’re trying to create what you never had…the perfect holiday.  Except there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to the holidays…

I heard a huge crash at 2 AM this morning…fully decorated tree, down on the floor.  Um, yeah….not perfect.


If you’re going to try to get through the holidays with your sanity, credit score, and waistline intact, then you’re going to have to have a strategy.  You need a plan to deal with every stressor that the holidays may present.  Failing to plan will be planning to fail here. Uh-oh…I feel my inner girl scout kicking in!

Let’s get a plan together for what you WANT to do, first.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. I’m giving you permission right now…in case you think you need it.

The holidays do not have to resemble any image you have ever seen before…whether it’s from your past or from the Hallmark card commercials.

YOU get to decide what this time of year means to you.

YOU get to decide whether any of the rituals of the season have any real meaning to you…gift-exchanges, baking cookies, decorating your home or yard, sending holiday greetings, attending parties, going to religious services.


So, first things first.  What do the holidays mean to you?  What do you want to celebrate?  And why?

Do you want to celebrate the emergence, in the dead of winter, of a little light?  (Okay, maybe a lot of lights?)

Do you want to celebrate the introduction of the concepts of love, peace, hope, and forgiveness among human beings?

Do you want to celebrate the connections you feel to other humans, whether you are related by blood-ties or not?

Do you want to celebrate the holiday traditions that have been passed down through your family, your community, your culture?

What, if anything, about the holiday season, matters to you?  What do YOU want to be a part of?

Once you can figure out what this holiday time actually means to you, it’s going to help serve as your “sorting chart” for what things you’re going to do and not do.


Okay, so if you’ve gotten a read on what really matters to you about the holidays….now you can start looking at all those “expectations” and invitations and TO DO lists and start checking it with that sorting chart.

You can write the 2-3 things this season means to you at the top of a page of paper: For example, you might have “Enjoy the warmth of being with others” and “Enjoy the religious rituals of the season.”

Where does buying gifts for everyone you have ever come in contact go?  Nope…don’t see it on there.

How about sending holiday greeting cards?  Maybe it fits under “enjoy the warmth of being with others” for those folks you won’t get to be with.

Parties?  Definitely on your sorting chart.

Baking 12 dozen different types of cookies?  Not on your list (although that one is definitely on mine…that’s because “Enjoy continuing family holiday traditions” is at the top of my sorting chart.)

See…if you’ve got your priorities straight, you can figure out what you want to do, and what you don’t, more easily.  And without guilt…I don’t think the holiday season is supposed to be about guilt.  Pretty sure about that.


Now, if you’re not in the mood to do anything this holiday season…don’t.

I’m serious…if you are grieving or very ill, suffering a major loss or trauma, then trying to “get happy” isn’t going to help.  (Read my post on Stop Kicking the Turtle).

If you’ve got a bad case of the stomach flu, just because there’s a huge party going on in the next room, it doesn’t mean you have to get up and go mingle.  You’re allowed to stay in the bathroom and just try to get through the night.

If you’re having a blue Christmas, a heavy Hanukkah, or a queasy Kwanzaa  then just let yourself be. I think part of the “spirit of the season” is about kindness.  Be kind to yourself.  Show yourself some compassion.

If there’s anything…anything at all…that might help you to get through this time of year more easily, then please get it for yourself.

It’s okay to spend the holidays cruising or in a different location if you’ve separated, divorced, or lost a loved one and can’t bear to be in the house with all the familiar holiday surroundings…except that special someone.

It’s okay to skip parties, events, services. On the flip side, if there’s something that you really need to help you make it through, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for it, get it for yourself if you can, or let someone else get it for you.

If you can’t bear to shop alone, bake alone, go to events alone, or just be alone at the holidays…ask someone for help with this.  A lot of people have “enjoy showing kindness to others” at the top of their sorting chart….your request is going to fit in nicely.

“Enjoy when you can, endure when you must.”–Goethe

So, this season, let it be your goal to get your priorities straight.  Figure out what really matters to you.  Discover what you really want to celebrate about these holidays (if anything).

And then go be whatever type of merry you are up to being, you lovable old Grinch, you.  I wish you the very best this holiday season…and you don’t have to be happy about it!

15 Responses to “When You’re Just Not In the Mood…for a “Happy” Holiday”

  • Awesome work! Keep posting good material.

  • woot, thankyou! I finally came to a site where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so annoying having to go from page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of people just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thankyou very much for the info anyway, much appreciated.

  • Helpful information here. I added your site on my favorite, so visit again.

  • Love the blog here. Nice colors. I am definitely staying tuned to this one. Hope to see more.

  • Super-Duper web site! I’m loving it!! Will arrive back again again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.
    Hello. Excellent occupation. I did not expect this on the Wednesday. This is really a terrific story. Thanks!

  • This is a wonderful post. This year, one thing that threatened to send me over the edge was the Christmas cards. Finally, I decided to send them to who I actually WANTED to send them to and not just to everyone on the list who might expect to get one from me. I cut my list to less than half, and it felt good.

  • DP:

    This place is as cool as my grandmas pantry. I wish you could see the grin on my face when I entered the pantry and found the strawberry jam. That’s how I feel here ;P.

  • Hehe, this one was good. Keep the level high!

  • Finally something I was looking for. I mean I view like 10 sites (some of them looking really posh) but I found only here what I was looking for :P.

  • *Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. really thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!

  • TP:

    Your post is very interesting. I’ve read your blog for few days now and I trully enjoy your blog. Thank you for your great work!

  • Way cool, some wonderful points! I appreciate you making this article available, the rest of the site is also well done. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  • as:

    33) Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet

  • Our 22 year old son just got his own place a month ago, I miss him terriblely but he’s only one town over, silly I know. Our oldest son and his wonderful girlfriend live with us and enjoy them very much. My husband’s health is not good, sleeps most of the time, on disability while I work all day at a very rowdy High School. Am exhausted when I get home, have hypothyroid problems and just don’t feel like doing anything. The decorations are all out but nothing put up, as it’s up to me to do it. When my boys were small, we made dozens & dozens of cookies. We are fortunate to have a beatiful home but can’t seem to get it together.

  • Mary:

    Thank you SO much for this post. I feel let down by God to be honest and that everything I believe to be true maybe isn’t and need to do my own soul searching. This has definitely been added to my favourites list.

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