Not everyone loves a holiday; many, for good reasons. Those days strung together like brightly colored lights everywhere can bring back bitter memories. Some sufferers simply don’t believe in all that anymore. They may object to consumerism. Some will have suffered a painful loss at Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years. Some folks may be in the process of losing someone now.
No, not everyone loves a holiday. I don’t think they are Scrooges; they are lost in these dark days of Winter Solstice. For whatever you may or may not believe, Solstice and the dying of the light happen. And that fact by itself is enough to make you want to take to the bed and stay there.
This is why there are celebrations, lights, shiny red objects, and evergreens spread around this time of year. To remind us that as the light dies, the days immediately begin to grow longer again. According to my Nature text, that’s what happens anyway. And the return of the light; whether it be days growing longer, a foggy depression lifting slowly, a new idea starting to form, a list of things we would like to make happen in 2015 (a list unaffected by outside influences–our list) signifies there are yet days to open and open like presents under under a tree.
No matter what religious holiday one celebrates, or if none is celebrated at all, it seems to me that any reason people find to be kinder to one another, more generous, to smile and greet each other in the street or at checkouts, is worth celebrating. Maybe we give to our favorite charity, or donate a big box to Goodwill, or pay for someone’s coffee behind us in line, as my cousin’s husband did before he died last year. His death was a great loss to his family, but he left behind a legacy of generosity and this small tradition to commemorate and continue.
So here’s a list I use to beat the holiday blues, or when I feel the holiday blues are beating me. You might try just one or two of these and see if it helps. And if you don’t want to be helped, well, no judgement here. Sometimes it’s best to sit with what troubles you until it passes. But should you tire of that, try one or two of these:
1. Write your way through the holidays. (Check out another year’s post on this very thing.) Do it for yourself, in your journal. Write in a bright and bustling cafe. Even better for beating the blues, write someone you love or a friend you haven’t contacted in years. No card is necessary, but you might support an artist by sending one of theirs.
2. What the heck? String a couple of rows of lights. They make LED’s now and they are low energy users, especially in exchange for the uplift they bring.
3. Go listen to some live music; choir, bluegrass band, or rock ‘n’ roll–uplifting for you and supports your local musicians. Go out to eat or drink and overtip the waiter, the waitress, the bartender. Write “thank you” on the check.
4. Bake some cookies or loaves of bread to give away to neighbors who have suffered a loss as well. Keep some for yourself. Some sugar can be good for the blues, says Dr. Mendy.
5. Invite some neighbor kids to visit if you have none of your own. Serve them cocoa. Give them a small gift. Even more important, listen to their stories and tall tales. If you find this difficult, spike your cocoa.
6. Sing along with the radio and have a party with yourself. Dance. Howl. Sit quietly and meditate; on the snow, the crows, the evergreens. Go for a long walk in the cold, observe winter’s stark beauty, then enter a warm place and cup your hands around something hot to drink.
7. Keep your expectations low. I expect a lot of myself in holiday seasons. This causes stress. I am only just learning to let go a little, and let the thing unfold, remembering I’m suppose to be on holiday, too.
8. Make some art. It doesn’t have to be great art. Or perfect. It’s the process, not the product.
9. Talk to an elder or a person with a handicap. Give them a hand with something that’s hard for them that you can do. Smile while you are doing it.
10. Give, give, give. That’s my best prescription for healing the holiday blues. That’s my prescription for a good life. However much you have, there’s always a way to give. There are always those in greater need than we are. And I believe with all my heart, when we give to others (people, animals, the earth), we give to ourselves and lighten our own load.
There you have it; my prescription for the holiday blues. The rest is up to you. Happy holly days to all! Love, from the Hillpoet