Happiness Clinic: Holiday Letdown

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English: Willie Nelson getting ready to perfor...

English: Willie Nelson getting ready to perform. Farm Aid 2009. Photo by Larry Philpot, www.soundstagephotography.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I had a truly wonderful, quiet Mother’s Day, where I was pampered and stuffed and gifted and waited on hand and foot (and my house got *spotless*), Mother’s Day remains a melancholy holiday for me, since my mother died in 1999 and my relationship with her was, to say the least, problematic.

I noticed in my http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/m1.odanu“>Facebook friends feed, and http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/odanu“>Twitter feed, and on my http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/odanu.livejournal.com“>LiveJournal friends list how many of my friends were also suffering from a bit of melancholy, and I thought now might be a good time to bring out my semi-regular soapbox about holidays and depression, as holiday letdown appears to be almost universal.
When I was working with veterans who had substance abuse issues, we used to refer to November and December as “relapse season” and would start in mid October, gearing our group therapy sessions to reminding the guys (that particular group had no female veterans) that it was normal to feel some depression around holidays, especially if you’re cut off from your family, especially if your expectations of holidays are high and you know you won’t be able to meet them, especially if you’re feeling a little loathing because you’re away from your family working on a mess you’ve made of your life so you can hope to rebuild it soon.

So I found myself yesterday morning, while my husband and sons were whipping up an amazing breakfast for me (having several good cooks in a family is an amazing luxury), laying in bed, sending out occasional tweets, and watching a weepy romance movie, tearing up occasionally.  Holiday letdown indeed.

I will do the same thing on Memorial Day, which falls within a week of my mother’s birthday every year, and on my father’s birthday, which was the day she died. I get through it, and I don’t dwell on it, but it helps a whole lot that I have built a foundation of love and trust and joy in my life where I can feel safe to mourn not only my mother, but the relationship I wanted and never had with her, and the person she might have been, had life not gotten the best of her.

When you anticipate a difficult holiday,

  • Do what will make you most comfortable, whether that is spending time with family, alone, or volunteering somewhere.
  • Find a way to honor your feelings, perhaps through a comforting ritual.  On Memorial day, I play a playlist of patriotic and anti-war songs, both honoring the soldiers that have died, and mourning the necessities of their death.  I invariably throw some Willie Nelsonli>
<li><span style= - Happiness Clinic: Holiday LetdownDon’t over schedule.  Practice saying no until you can say it to enough relatives to give yourself some breathing space.  Phone calls really are enough, especially if they’re loving. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with spreading your holiday visits over several days instead of piling them into one.
  • Almost all holidays are to honor someone or some important concept.  What are you doing to honor that?  I celebrate May Day the way the Europeans do, as a labor holiday, for example.  And every Groundhog day, which is the ancient celebration of the “quickening” of spring (it’s not yet here, but you can feel it kick) I light candles to welcome light back into the world.  Little things.
  • Reach out to someone else who might be having a difficult holiday, and offer to share.  You might ease both your burdens.

Happy Monday, you all. And may your holiday letdown give way to joy and peace.

  • http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/howtodealwithchristmasletdown” target=”_blank”>How To Deal with Christmas Letdown (messychristians.com)
  • http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/fathersdayorigins” target=”_blank”>Father’s Day Origins (berries.com)
  • http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/afterchristmasletdown” target=”_blank”>After Christmas Letdown (essaalroc.com)
  • http://www.amnottheonlyone.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/05/lapdcollectsover1000gunsduringholidaygunbuybackevent” target=”_blank”>LAPD Collects Over 1,000 Guns During Holiday Gun Buyback Event (atlantablackstar.com)
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