Don’t let seasonal doldrums mar ‘most wonderful time of year’

It’s perhaps one of the greatest ironies of life that what has been termed “the most wonderful time of the year” can also be the most challenging, bringing feelings of sadness, regret, overwhelm or even depression – or sometimes just “the blahs.”

It can be a blue Christmas – or Thanksgiving, or Hannukah, or Festivus – for any number of reasons.

Maybe, like the King of Rock and Roll sang, it just “won’t be the same, dear, if you’re not here with me.” Many of us have lost friends and loved ones this year, those who have passed from this life as well as those with whom we’ve had a falling out. Maybe it’s simply that they’ve moved far away – or we’re the ones who moved. Maybe their job will take them on the road this season and they’ll miss the big family dinner.

Whatever the cause, being separated from those we care about can certainly make it a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas – or, you know, whatever holiday event.

Aside from missing certain people at our holiday gatherings, having unmet expectations of any kind can throw a damper on any get together. Maybe Nana let the turkey cook until it was tough and dry. Maybe rain spoiled the plans for an evening campfire or that traditional backyard football game. Maybe you know you aren’t going to get that gift item on the top of your Christmas list, or you can’t afford to get your honey or your kids what you know they really want.

On top of all that, this time of year makes many of us reflect on the months that have sped by – and all the many things that happened or didn’t happen, leaving us with the heaviness of regret. While it can be a hopeful time to look toward the future as the new year approaches, it’s all far too easy to get bogged down in all the ways this year didn’t pan out the way we hoped.

We didn’t get to take that big trip. We lost a job, or we got a new job, but it’s turning out to be less awesome than we thought. And what about all those resolutions that came to nothing? Did you finally learn a new language? Lose weight? Crush your debt?

No?

Plenty of disappointment to go around.

So as the all-important “holiday season” begins to envelop us, now is a good time to commit to keeping it as joyful as possible, despite all the things that might threaten our happiness.

This is a time of year for giving thanks, for focusing on the positive, for reaching out a hand to others. It’s a time for making precious memories, for seeking and embracing simple magic, for accepting with open arms whatever good comes your way.

This season might not be perfect. In fact, we can be almost certain it won’t be. Few things are. But we can decide right now to steer clear of negative thoughts as much as possible and choose joy.

That’s what we hope for all of you this time of year.

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