What is it about the holidays that puts a fine line between joy & sadness? Some say it’s circumstantial: loss of employment, economy, death of a loved one, divorce or a breakup, etc., etc., etc. But if you think about it, you’ll never see a kid depressed around this time of year. You’ll never see them mope around the house dreading the Christmas decorations being put up or grumbling profanities while putting up the tree. (Yes, I know I’m not being politically correct.) I finally figured out why some of us adults are so grumpy, blue and miserable this time of year: we grew up. For one, our fantasies have been crushed to smithereens. Santa Claus isn’t real. He was dad with a bunch of pillows stuffed inside his shirt. All of our letters to him weren’t “received”, but were granted by mere humans: our parents. (Which we should be grateful for.) But it wasn’t some magical fat man in a red suit riding a sleigh with reindeers. I remember calling the 976 number to see where Santa Clause was at that very moment on Christmas Eve. “Ho ho ho! I’m currently delivering presents in Boston! I should be there shortly! Merry Christmas!” Mom would then tell me to get some sleep or else Santa won’t come down the chimney with my presents. So I went to bed, but my peepers were open, hoping to hear the rustle of Santa shimmying down the chimney, straight into our....wood burning stove. What if the stove doors were locked? How would Santa get out? Boy were we all gullible back then, and so happy and excited!
Then we grow up. We develop relationships, get married, yada yada yada. I remember hanging out with a family friend who had broken up with her boyfriend right before Christmas. She was asked by one of the girls we were with, “How could you break up with him right before the holidays?” She looked over at the girl and said, “Tell me, when is a good time?” I understood both parts, but when a breakup or divorce happens right before the holidays, it can definitely set off a ton of emotions, especially if there are children involved. Add on a termination at your place of work and you have a recipe for a possible suicide. The most suicides happen around the holidays, especially if these unfortunate circumstances happen right beforehand. Many people don’t accept change very well, even if it’s minor. People are separating for the holidays going to their in laws, and some simply prefer to spend the holiday home - whatever the reasonings are. Too many people focus way too much on the emphasis on gifts. Some people don’t have the money to even buy one gift. In my opinion, this takes away from the joy in some way, unless you totally enjoy shopping and giving to people. But if you’re the type that stresses over what so & so wants and ‘what if he/she hates this gift’ --- try gift certificates and always remember, cold cash warms the heart to many kids these days.
The perfect Christmas for me is spending time with my wife, family and friends with good food and lots of good wine to make some of the chaos bearable. Oh, and get this - we actually celebrate Christ being born. I feel bad for parents who have chosen to give into the entire technological world; giving their kids the most lavish things like iPads, iPhones, laptops, etc. The other day while speaking to my friend who has two beautiful girls, she said that her oldest, who is 10 years old wants a Macbook and her youngest who is 8 years old would like a tablet of some sort, and of course nice name brand clothes to garnish it up with. I can’t even imagine being a kid asking for a $2,000 gift! (And believe me, I asked for a lot!) For that reason alone, I’m scared to even think about having kids. And you can say “I wouldn’t do that” all day long, but just think about when they’re in school and every single kid in that class has a $500.00 phone or a $2,000 laptop. You’ll be trying to keep up with the Joneses too.
But I digress. Back to the emotional aspect of the holidays: when will adults start to enjoy it more? When will they stop wishing they were kids again, just to enjoy another Christmas once more? When will breakups and divorces not become a larger issue created by the holidays? When will we stop missing our deceased loved ones on Christmas and realize that every single day they are missed? Why does Christmas seem to break more hearts than it does to warm it? I guess the answer lies somewhere between the most important time of the year and the most important person in our life who has chosen to leave it, or perhaps has been taken away forever without a choice. There’s definitely a fine line between joy & sadness this time of year.
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