Can the Holidays be Merry this Year?

Dear Vicki: This is supposed to be such a joyful time of year, but try as I might, I always end up sad and depressed around the holidays. And of course, with Covid this year, it’s even worse. I think of family and friends who have passed away from natural causes, and more recently a few from Covid, and I miss the holidays of my childhood. I am an adult who has been very content in her singlehood and happiest alone, but this time of year makes me question whether the effort I put into my legal career at the expense of relationships was wise. I know your blog is about relationships, but do you have any suggestions on how I can get through the holidays this year? I act like all the fuss is a colossal waste of time, but in all honesty, a small part of me wishes I wasn’t so automatically dismissive. I don’t expect to be joyful, but it would be great not to be so down. Signed: Sad in Sycamore


Dear Sad: Bless you for reaching out. The holiday season is a complicated time of year for all of us, especially this year. If we were lucky when young, we had parents who tried to make the holidays as magical for us as possible. We likely didn’t see the sacrifices they made to do this, or the responsibilities they juggled to manage it all. Even if we were this lucky, few of us ever experienced the kind of highly idealized holidays that the advertising world seems to insist is normal. Yet when we admit that we just don’t have the time, energy, or means to meet the expectations they create, we feel like failures.

For those of us whose holiday experiences centered on friends and family, the inevitable loss of loved ones over the years no doubt puts a damper on things. And this year, due to Covid-19, we’re all being encouraged to stay isolated, or at least keep celebrations to a gathering of the immediate household. Naturally, we all long for the magic of more normal holidays and times when we could gather freely with family and friends. 

I want to assure you that these are all normal reactions and responses to our current situation and the procession of life through the years. People come into our lives, and people leave. There are wonderfully magical times, and times of sorrow and loss. That is life at its most basic. But that doesn’t mean we are destined to be victims of the past. There is much we can do to manage our response to the holidays this year, so let’s look at ways you can make a difference for yourself.

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