Michaels: How to avoid a blue Christmas

Sylent Lee Michaels with her mom Lois Ann Michaels as a young child. - Copy Editor / Sylent Lee Michaels

Thanksgiving is over which means the holidays are in full swing. This time of year is supposed to be the happiest time for friends and families as we gather together to spread joy and love to one another. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and of course, The New Year, are all filled with spirit, culture and love for others. They are meant to be spent with family and to celebrate all that we are happy and thankful for in life. 

Every year, everything in me wants to be happy for the holidays — appreciating every moment of it. From the beautiful lights magically spread across houses, menorahs lit in windows, gift sharing with loved ones and celebrating family are beautiful aspects of this time of year. 

But the holidays, as beautiful and lovely as they can be, can be a tough reminder that the magic we knew the holidays to be as children has dissipated. Many things change as we grow up, and even if you try to enjoy the times as they are now, it’s inevitably different. And for those who have experienced loss and pain in life, it may bring up a lot of things you might not want to revisit. 

This is not to say the holidays are awful, but it can be a lonely feeling to dislike the holidays as your friends fill up with joy for these same events. For me, the second this season and these holidays roll around, I find myself feeling down. I have a tendency to be irritable and emotional, no matter how badly I yearn to be excited and happy for the season. I want to be excited with my friends and loved ones, but I can’t no matter how hard I try. And my guess is, I am not alone in feeling this way. 

So for those who struggle around the holidays, whatever your reason may be, this is for you and for me. To the people who can tend to be a bit of a Scrooge around the holidays because they have lost a loved one, had traditions taken away from them, or don’t have the greatest home life. I want you to know you are not alone. 

Personally, for me, my mom fell ill when I was young and is no longer around. I have always found it hard to be excited and positive for the holidays because I want to celebrate with her. The traditions we shared changed and no matter how hard I tried to keep them alive, it is very hard without her. Then, a few years ago, my grandmother passed away and the holidays have become even harder for me. 

When I find myself reacting negatively towards the people I care about or falling prey to my depression when this season rolls around, I often don’t even notice it at first. Every year, I take a moment to sit with myself and acknowledge what month it is and why I feel the way I do deep down. And I remind myself that this is life, we are going to lose people, we are going to experience hardships or fights among our families and friends. It may make you hate the holidays or make you feel miserable and irritable. But we have to push through that to be happy with those we love. 

So I wanted to share some ways to find those happy moments, even when you may feel like Scrooge himself. It all starts with being honest with yourself and those around you, that this time of the year is not easy for you. And you can do this in a lot of ways from speaking or through writing, just expressing your feelings in any way that helps you. 

Then, find those moments of happiness and magic and embrace them. Let it all in and allow yourself to make new memories. You have to appreciate the good and let go of the bad, even if it is something as small as looking at Christmas lights with friends — just let yourself enjoy it! 

And my last bit of advice would be to pay respect. Allow yourself to remember all of the good of what has become lost because that too, should be embraced. Whether it is a lost loved one or to your inner child that wants that holiday magic so deeply, acknowledge it. You never know what may help heal your soul until you’ve tried. 

So, while the holidays remain a happy time of year for many, it is best to understand that is not the case for all. For some, holidays are dreadful for a variety of reasons and it can get tough. For those that are struggling, I beg you to not ignore it. And to those who are around someone who struggles, do your best to lend a listening ear to your loved one. 

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