Blue Christmas

*I wrote this piece for my newsletter in December 2017, and I had so many responses that I wanted to share it again this year.

I was all set to write a jaunty note about new year’s resolutions and the fresh start of January. But my mind isn’t there yet. Right now I’m still caught up in December.

I don’t mean to be a Scrooge to your holiday cheer, but I’ve always found December to be hard. It seems to me like a bright, sparkly time that has a darkness at the edges. No other season or holiday has such manic energy. It always feels to me like a season that’s trying to prove something.

We’ve been so conditioned by our culture to think of Christmas as a time when you give lots of gifts, spend time with all those people you love, and feel warmth in your heart. The message is: if that’s not your reality, you’re really lacking something. It’s almost a requirement to create a Hallmark life.

That’s so hard, and so unrealistic! I bet you can easily name five people you know for whom Christmas will not be merry this year. Through no fault of their own they’ve been dealt some crappy cards, and they’re gritting their teeth to get through the season. Maybe you’re one of them.

I’ve spent my adult life trying to do December on my own terms. I don’t give extravagant gifts, I don’t exhaust myself with parties and activities (anymore), and I try to take the emphasis off the big day, December 25. I’ve learned what parts of the season I enjoy and that’s where I focus. I will confess that it’s easier for me because I have no extended family in Calgary, so there are few expectations. But that distance from family is also part of the sadness.

If you’re feeling merry this Christmas, I’m so happy for you. Enjoy it – relish it! You deserve it.

If this isn’t the best year for you, that’s ok. You’re ok. It will all be ok. Take the good parts you can from this December, and don’t worry about the rest.

Hear this truth: How you spend Christmas does not define you as a person.

And January 1 and a fresh start is right around the corner.