One of my favorite Jason Isbell songs, “Relatively Easy”, has a line in it that says, “I lost a good friend, at Christmas time, when folks go off the deep end.” The first time I heard it, I was surprised, because I had never heard Christmastime described as a time when “folks go off the deep end”, much less, Christmastime described negatively at all. But mostly, I was surprised because I’ve always thought I was the only one who falls into a slump every time December rolls around. I’ve always thought I was the only one who sometimes feels on the verge of “going off the deep end” every Christmastime.

So, it got me thinking. If I’m actually not the only one, and there are actually other people who struggle this time of year, why does no one ever say it? Why are we all posting Instagram pictures saying, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and trying to show all our friends that we are having a more wonderul most-wonderful-time-of-the-year than them?

I’m a firm believer that in finding out what is making you upset, you begin to feel a little less upset. I’ve been thinking a lot about it – and by that I mean talking my therapist’s ear off about it – and why I get so down every December. And I’ve come up with a few reasons. My hope is that some of you will be able to relate, and you might find out that these are some of your reasons too. And maybe that way, we can all be a little more at peace this month.

*Disclaimer: Before you read further, I DO NOT HATE CHRISTMAS. I love it. It’s just that sometimes, my anxiety and depression kicks in for reasons that are a little illogical and sometimes even unbeknownst to me.

Reason #1: My Christmas track record. December of my freshman year, I went through severe depression. Sophomore year, I was broken up with on Christmas Eve-Eve. Last year, my anxiety came back worse than ever. I’ve developed this theory that my Christmases are cursed. With that track record, you might agree with me. 

Reason #2: There’s one word that everyone thinks about but no one says when they think about Christmas, and it’s a word that also starts with a C: Couples. They’re everywhere this time of year. They’re holding hands in the mall and picking out each other’s presents, they’re sipping peppermint hot chocolate across from each other at Starbucks, they’re taking cute pictures in front of Christmas light displays or at an ice skating rink and everyone comments “goals” with a million of those stupid heart-eye emojis. And every time I see one of those couples, I get this little twinge of pain. It’s not like a stab or anything – just kinda like a flu shot. And it says, “Don’t you wish you had a boyfriend right now?” 

Now, that being said, I’m still enjoying the Christmas festivities with my girlfriends and having a great time doing that. But being single at Christmastime is hard. And when all you hear on the radio is, “we’re snuggled up together like two birds of a feather” and “all I want for Christmas is you” and “mistletoe [this]” and “mistletoe [that]” {it’s in EVERY SINGLE SONG}… Well, when that’s all you hear, it just sometimes makes you want to punch a whole right through your car speakers.

Reason #3: Maybe there’s a method to my madness. Maybe I’m not all that crazy for feeling like I’m a little crazy this time of year. You know, there’s a whole lot of good at Christmas: Jesus came to earth to save us from sin (duh) and families come home and Starbucks sells their seasonal drinks and you get presents and my dad (Clark Griswald) is competing with the neighbors for best Christmas lights. And I love this stuff. But what we don’t always acknowledge is that there’s also some bad this time of year. Families fight a lot, and you don’t know who you’re close enough with to buy a present for, and you don’t know if you’ll even have enough money to buy those presents, and there are exams. Let me repeat: there are exams. Call me crazy, but I can’t be too excited with an inch-thick test looming over me for all of December. (All my fellow high school/college buds, I know you feel me on this one. Exams are NOT exciting.) But because it’s “supposed” to be “the most wonderful time of the year”, we feel like we should be excited, exuberant, dancing around like Buddy the Elf. And then, since we aren’t, we start feeling guilty. Thus, the downward slope gets steeper.

I guess what I’m trying to say – in a very roundabout way – is that for some of us, there’s no getting around the fact that Christmas can be hard. But what does that mean? Does that mean I should just whole up in my room and watch under-the-radar Netflix Christmas movies, crying into aluminum tins of trail mix or cheese biscuits or whatever the neighbors bring over, waiting for this season to pass? No. Not at all. In fact, I think we should do the opposite – I think we should live in spite of the tough time Christmas can sometimes be, and try to appreciate the little blessings God sends us this year, even if they are hard to see at times. But what we need to stop doing is pressuring ourselves to have the “best Christmas ever” and beating ourselves up if that doesn’t happen. God doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up; He came at Christmastime so that we could get to Heaven, and we’re not quite to Heaven yet. We’re still on earth. And down here, things are messy. God knows that. We need to stop feeling guilty for feeling sad and just accept that it doesn’t have to be the most wonderful time of the year. It can be just an “okay” time of year. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

So, if you’re struggling a little (like I am), let’s do this: let’s make this the most “okay” Christmas there ever was. Let’s accept that things aren’t perfect, that our families are dysfunctional, that we gained too much weight eating that dark chocolate peppermint fudge, and that things are undeniably stressful. I don’t know what your cross to bear is. But I know that all of our crosses are equally as heavy. If we try and accept these crosses, though, I feel like this Christmas is going to be pretty okay. And you never know, it just might turn out to be the best Christmas ever, simply because we accept these things. Who’s with me?!

God loves you,

*Also, thank you SO much for the sweet words and positive feedback on my debut post last week. You all made it so exciting for me to start this “blogging journey.”And thanks for reading!!


One thought on “Christmastime: When Folks Go Off the Deep End?

  1. Oh sweet Caroline, this is absolutely wonderful and oh so true! Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel. I’m so proud of you! Love you beautiful girl!


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