By Stephanie Wick, Ph.D., LCMFT, LCAC
Andrews & Associates Counseling
The Hallmark channel begins airing Christmas movies in October. You know the ones—a wholesome, simple minded country bumpkin persuades a cold-hearted city executive to fall in love with Christmas (and him/her) through a predictable succession of hot cocoa drinks, Christmas tree farms, a very slight climax where the city mouse returns to the city—only to realize how much he/she misses the country, and then a happy ending sprinkled with twinkling lights and a dusting of snow. And for some, this is the definition of holiday happiness. All the warmth, love and connection one could imagine…..truly the pinnacle of an entire year now gone.
But Hallmark movies rarely account for the unfortunate side of the holiday season. The side marred by loneliness, depression, the grief of loved ones lost, separation from children because of a divorce, family turmoil, illness, unemployment, financial strain and unmet expectations. The cascade of lights and ornaments and trees and music and movies can be nothing short of nauseating—not to mention painful—for people whose lives do not resemble a Hallmark movie. Furthermore, the demands and stressors of the holiday season are steep, a problem we’ve largely brought upon ourselves through futile efforts to create the “perfect” Christmas.
Whether you love the holidays or dread them, there are some things that can help make them more manageable.