Don’t waste Christmas on the ‘holiday blues’

“’Tis the season to be jolly. Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la.”
Yes, indeed, it’s almost Christmas. Reminders are everywhere. I met Santa in the grocery store and on Main Street. Waving and ho-ho-ho-ing, he made me chuckle and feel good inside.
Christmas surprises are beginning to appear under the tree. Everyone is smiling and whispering around the corners.
So why is it that sometimes in this season of joy I feel so “blue?” So deep down lonely blue. So hauntingly, poignantly blue.
In a way, I do remember when it all began—the sad feelings intertwined with joy at Christmas. It was 1958. My father died just before Christmas; and when we took the poinsettia home from the hospital, it froze in the sub-zero weather.
The same thing happened to my heart. That year for the first time, I cried when we sang “Silent Night.”
That was a long time ago. But I cried again, almost 30 years later, in 1985. That year my mother died just before Christmas.
Other happier Christmases come to mind. I remember Christmas with Grandma. The tall and friendly one. Of course, I was small then, but she stood tall above me with Christmas candy in her apron pockets.
Candy for me. Especially for me.
Christmas 1954 was in a hilly town in western Pennsylvania. We celebrated our one-month wedding anniversary by hanging a gaudy, red cellophane wreath with an electric candle in the middle.
Oh what a wreath that was!
Several years later, the tree had a little rocking chair under it and a baby doll sitting in the chair.
You don’t forget things like those. And even as you can’t forget, you know they will never come again.
As I once heard Katherine Hepburn say on a television special, “We have such losses in life.” And then blinking back the tears, she went on to talk about the joys of her day-to-day living in New York and Connecticut.
You can’t deny it. This side of 60, we’ve all had losses. Such losses that sometimes it seems a wonder there’s any joy left at all. But that’s not the way it works. Joy can and does recreate itself in our lives—if we give it a chance.
It’s hard to be alone at the holidays. It’s hard to be sick when others are celebrating. And you can’t help thinking of family and friends who are no longer here.
This poignant mixing of joy and sadness at the holiday season is so common as to have been given a name by the mental health professionals. The “holiday blues” they call it.
For a few people, the “holiday blues” get out of hand and demand help. For most of us, it’s just a matter of getting outside ourselves and consciously creating joy.
If this is a hard Christmas for you, look around you for other people who may have even more recent and deeper losses than yours. Look for others who might spend the day alone.
Think happy thoughts about the days that are gone. Look at the pictures. Give thanks for the memories. And always remember that one day this Christmas also will be a memory.
There are so few Christmases in our lives, we can’t afford to waste even one on the “holiday blues.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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