This is a difficult season, the week after Christmas. It’s a mini-season of limbo — an awkward in-between time — and people have different ways of dealing with it.
Some are still running on fumes from the emotional high that opening presents and seeing family brought. They may even try to extend the holiday an extra week — with varying degrees of success.
Others feel guilty for over-indulging in holiday sweets and are on a weeklong shame fest. They are already starting to make those New Year’s resolutions.
Even others are dealing with the disappointment of another year gone by, another December 25 come and gone, and a lingering feeling of emptiness after the last gift is unwrapped.
For years, I felt this way about Christmas, and to an extent, still sometimes do.
There is so much hype and expectation, building up to a single day — how does it live up to its potential? And what do we do the day after Christmas, when for many of us, a good old-fashioned case of the blues settles in?
You may have expected this, but here it goes, anyway:
Write about it
Capture your thoughts — yes, your angst-ridden, Scroogey thoughts — and share them. Do it honestly and unapologetically.
If you feel something deep and dark, maybe even cynical, write about it. Use a notebook or laptop, and let yourself process the feelings without restraint.
In other words, grieve.
Did you have an amazing Christmas and you’re sad to see it go? Write about it.
Did everyone get into a fight and yell at each other? Write about that, too.
Did you end the day, cynical and frustrated, not believing in the so-called “magic” of Christmas? Yes, write even about that.
And as you write, let go
As the memories and frustrations wash over you, let the feelings slip away. Honor them as they come. But don’t dwell on them. Be present to your emotions. And then, let them fade. This is what grieving is for: not hanging on, but letting go.
Maybe you need to write a lament, like I did. This is a sort of anti-Christmas carol. Instead of singing of the joys of the coming holiday, mourn its passing — whether you loved it or hated it.
Have a funeral for this day of wonder and awe. Because it’s gone. And it won’t be coming back. You will never get this Christmas back.
So shed a tear or sing a “hallelujah.” Do whatever you need to do to let it go. There are 364 other days that need your attention; don’t dwell in the past or on the future. Focus on where you are right now. Writing (or any creative act) can help you with this.
Ways to work through the blues
If you get stuck, here are some ideas:
- Write a poem about the feelings you felt right after opening presents. Disappointment? Anger? Release? Capture them in words.
- Write a complaint letter to Santa Claus about your disillusionment. What really miffs you about this holiday? Tell the old fat man “how it is.”
- Write a blog post, describing Christmas day, without all the fluffy exaggerations. Be honest. If you didn’t like a gift, say so. Write what we’re all thinking.
- If you’re so inclined, write a sad song and sing it aloud — for yourself or others to hear.
- Pray a prayer that allows you to grieve the passing of the day, while still honoring its importance.
- Paint a picture, listen to music, or do some woodworking. Just create something. Anything.
This is how we work through disappoint and overcome tragedy. We grieve. We process. We pay attention to what we’re feeling, so that we can move on. We own our feelings, so they don’t own us.
This is healthy. This is right. This is necessary.
Be brave today (and the days following Christmas); learn to grieve and let go. There is a wonderful lesson about life and loss to be learned here. If you will be present — if you will press in, mourn, and move on.
Or you can just go shopping and watch TV. It’s your call.
*Photo credit: Anthony Kelly (Creative Commons)