Bah Humbug Deux

Most of us here at misterio are running around like crazy, doing last minute tasks required to launch new books before Christmas. So I thought this would be a good time to re-run a post from last year. It’s about how to cope with the holidays if you are a bah humbug person who really doesn’t like Christmas.

I hate to say it since I love the holiday myself, but Christmas is not for everyone. Some people just barely tolerate it, some flat out hate it and some find it incredibly depressing. And the fact that everybody else is so gleefully looking forward to it just makes their lack of pleasure in it that much more pronounced.

Is blue your favorite color for Christmas lights?

If you dislike Christmas, or know someone who does, here are some tips for handling the Christmas Blues.

#1: Stop feeling bad about not liking Christmas. And especially stop feeling bad about yourself for feeling that way. First of all, you can’t control how you feel, only how you act (I know I do harp on this idea, but it’s true!)

Secondly, I am quite sure you came by your negative feelings about Christmas quite honestly. Perhaps you’re not as fond of Christmas as you once were because the people you once shared it with are gone. Even though I still love Christmas, I don’t get nearly as excited about it as I once did. It’s never been quite the same since my mother died. I didn’t realize how much her enthusiasm was the driving force behind everyone else’s pleasure, not until after she was gone. I’ve had to adjust to the new normal for the holidays, that I am now the matriarch of the family. *shudder*

Or perhaps there are unpleasant associations to it because of experiences from your past. You are not alone. There’s a reason why “A Dysfunctional Family Christmas” is one of Saturday Night Live’s all-time favorite skits.

#2: Establish new holiday traditions that feel right for you and your family.

This really helped a friend of mine overcome his bah humbug reaction to Christmas. He grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father. The holidays were just an opportunity and excuse for his father to get more drunk, more often which totally tainted all the Christmas traditions for my firend.

When his children were young, my friend and his wife started a new tradition. The family would go together to a nearby cut-your-own tree farm to pick out a tree. It became quite a ritual. The kids would spend an hour or more running around, trying to decide on just the right tree. Once it was cut down and paid for, while the tree farm staff tied it to the roof of their car, they would huddle around drinking hot cider and trying to decide if this year’s tree was better than last year’s.

Now the decorated tree didn’t remind him of his parents fighting anymore. It reminded him of the fun his own family had picking this tree out.

If you don’t have a family and/or it’s impractical to be with family who live far away, this may very well be why you aren’t all that into the holiday. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you are being bombarded with images of happy families celebrating, while you’re looking forward to a lonely day.

#3: One approach can be to think of the Christmas holiday as just another day or two off from work, like Memorial Day weekend or Veterans’ Day. Breathe a sigh of relief that you have the time off and do what you would with any other day off. Lay around the house in your jammies and read a good book, or even catch up on household chores or gardening.

#4: Travel. If you’re part of a couple but neither of you feel strongly about Christmas with your extended families, give each other a nice vacation, like a four-day cruise (or longer if you can afford it) to the Bahamas. If you’re single, find a friend or acquaintance in the same boat (no pun intended) and take that cruise, or go skiing in Colorado for a long weekend.

#5: An old standby is to volunteer at a senior center or soup kitchen serving Christmas dinner to those less fortunate. This can provide a sense of camaraderie and belonging with your fellow volunteers as well as a sense of satisfaction in the altruistic task.

#6: If dealing with extended family is what makes Christmas so hard, you can do one of several things. One option, if you’re not up for a family scene because you just didn’t show up, is to officially declare either Christmas Eve, or maybe the weekend before or after Christmas as your Christmas. Then Christmas Day itself becomes just another obligatory visit with the annoying relatives. (You may notice that nowhere in the Bible is the date of Christ’s birth mentioned. Biblical scholars don’t believe Jesus was actually born on December 25th; this date was chosen by the early Church of Rome because it was a pagan holiday they were trying to supplant.)

If you’re single, perhaps you have a circle of friends with whom you are closer than you are with your family? Then make them your ‘family of choice’ to celebrate the holiday with. Again, you may want to do this on a different day, so everybody can appease their biological families by showing up for turkey. But in your mind, make the day you gather with friends your “real” Christmas.

#7: Keep in mind that it’s one lousy day out of the year and this too shall pass! Again, it’s okay to not like Christmas.

#8: Adding a new item this year. If you hate to shop and that is bumming you out this time of year, here are some ideas to make life easier. Focus on online shopping; it’s still shopping but without the crowds and you can do it in your jammies. 🙂 Also consider taking a friend or family member out to lunch or to a fun event as a present. Gift cards may seem impersonal but if it’s to the person’s favorite day spa, or for books for an avid reader, that can make it special.

Think about gift ideas that are easy for you and yet the person will indeed enjoy the gift. I have a friend who hates to shop but she’s a fabulous cook. I asked her to bake me something yummy this year since I’m not much of a cook. A win-win!

If you happen to have mystery or pet lovers on your list, we can make life easier for you. Check out these two posts: Shannon Esposito’s Five Holiday Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers and K.B. Owen’s Cyber Monday for Mystery Lovers (and check out our boxed set below; it’s on sale this week!)

Women of Mystery boxed set cover


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Are you a bah humbugger or do you love Christmas? Do you know someone who struggles with depression or loneliness over the holidays?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington Mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    December 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Great suggestions, Kass! There’s a lot of pressure to feel a certain way at Christmas time. Even if you aren’t feeling “bah humbug” -ish about the holiday, someone can still feel a little blue or let down because of the high expectations. I remember feeling a little sad when my kids outgrew Santa Claus. But we sort of stumbled onto new traditions and ways of enjoying each other, and it certainly is more relaxing now!

    Hope you enjoy your holiday.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

      Thanks, Kathy! Hope you have a great holiday, too.

      Two years ago we stopped cooking a big dinner. *gasps of horror resound*

      It was just too hard with my autistic grandson bouncing off the walls (he is very, very active even on normal days) to try to get everyone seated at the table at the same time for any length of time. Now we do a buffet with mostly cold foods and it is so much easier. I thought I would really miss the dinner, but I don’t. Not having to do all that cooking on Christmas itself is great. We can do it all ahead of time.

      Once you make the adjustment, the new traditions sometimes are better!

  • Reply
    Julie Glover
    December 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I will stand up and say, “My name is Julie Glover, and I am NOT a Christmas-aholic.” Far from it. Yes, I like the season — but for like a week instead of the 6-8 weeks the holiday season usually hovers. I wait to set up my decorations and tree, do a lot of my shopping online, and simplify Christmas plans as much as I can.

    I finally get into the spirit about mid-December, but until then…yeah, I’m a little bah-hum-bug-ish. Your suggestions are great!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Honestly I can’t say that the full Christmas spirit hits me until about that time as well, Julie. When the shopping’s all done and I’m starting to wrap the presents, that’s when it gets exciting for me. Glad you liked the suggestions.

  • Reply
    Getting into the Christmas Spirit, or Fighting My Inner Grinch | Julie Glover, Writer
    December 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

    […] If the holidays really are a difficult time for you (and they are for many), author Kassandra Lamb has some great suggestions in her recent blog post, Bah Hambug Deux. […]

  • Reply
    Eden Mabee
    December 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I had no problem with other people’s joy at the season. I had trouble with other people’s expectation that I celebrate the season as they do. A lot of that comes from the whole commercialism of the holiday, but it also includes the competitive yard decorations, the round-the-clock Christmas songs on the radio, the people who get upset if I say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” (I usually return with “And a Blessed Yule to you too.”).

    This is a great list, Kassandra. All festivals should be about bringing us together and supporting each other… That’s a hard goal, but I would like to think it’s a good one.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Amen, Eden! The big problem is that everybody gets so uptight about it all. I finally figured out that the stress just wasn’t worth it. You do what works for you and try to relax and enjoy (or ignore if that’s what works best).

  • Reply
    Nancy Levine
    December 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    l used to love Chanukah and the holiday season. l have wonderful memories of times with my parents, husband and friends. This year, l was sure i would start loving them again since last year my parents went into a nursing home on December 3 and the year before, l almost died after getting pneumonia after knee surgery [the surgery went fine, the pnemonia came while l was in the hospital]. No, this year has been bad, too. Thanks for the suggesttions for new traditions…maybe next year, l’ll try some of those.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Oh my, Nancy, I’m so sorry that you’re going through a rough patch. Maybe the idea of pretending it’s just another day, i.e. ignoring the holiday completely, might be best for this year. I hope things improve drastically for you in 2014!!

      • Reply
        Nancy Levine
        December 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        Thanks so much, Kassandra–okay, it’s just another Wednesday.

        I hope you’re right about things improving…it’s a lot of bad stuff for one person.

        • Reply
          Kassandra Lamb
          December 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

          Definitely more than your share. You are overdue for a good year!!

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