We’ve all got the message, everyone is supposed to be happy and jolly, after all it is Christmas. It’s the season of birth, of Santa and elves and presents and everything that is just supposed to be good. The vast reality is that for most adults, it really isn’t the happiest time of year. IT is a time of stress and anxiety for most adults and that is an improvement for those that don’t have reasons that it isn’t the happiest day of the year.
While there is a myth of the increase in suicide rates during the holiday season, they actually go down. It doesn’t mean that it is really the happiest time of the year. Ask any parent about Christmas, and what they like is watching their children open up gifts under the tree. What they don’t like is the stress to get there. Especially when the dollar is tight and it is difficult to buy those gifts which will light up kids’ eyes. We have so overly commercialized the holiday that people fight in stores over the latest must have gift, and then it is questionable whether it is a must have from the child’s point of view. And the gift giving or buying is only part of the stress. WE have made this holiday the “happiest” time of the year without looking to see what makes it happy. While it should be about the time we spend with family and friends, its often about the gifts (how much to spend? How much are they spending?) and how we project who we are and what we are doing in life. How many dread going to family functions because of the conflict that will probably happen?
The expectations to create the most perfect of holidays, causes a lot of unneeded stress. It’s not what the season is supposed to be about, but it is what it turns into.
We try to make up for this commercialization in good ways, like adopting an angel or providing food for those who we forget the rest of the year. But how often does that make up for the emptiness that often invades.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen many patients, most of whom were dreading Christmas. The constant stress and need to create the most perfect of holidays and how to get everything done before the big day. It consumes us. And yet we continue to put pressure on ourselves to get it right. Maybe we should step back. The media says that there is a war on Christmas. And maybe there is, but it is a war on the true meaning of Christmas. Whether you believe or not, Christmas is supposed to inspire peace and goodwill among men. Where is the goodwill in the stories that come out of black Friday every year?