I am not a “Christmas person.”

I’m not actually even 100% sure what that means, but the fact that the phrase alone gives me the heeby jeebies is probably confirmation. Apparently, I lack the starry eyed gaze of  “The Christmas Spirit.”

I have really tried to accommodate the expectation, and the more I’ve struggled with it this year, the more I’ve pondered the answers.

Here’s what I’ve come up with.

1. I am an empath, and A LOT of people are unwittingly sucking the life out of me. 

I am an empath; which basically means I feel the weight of everyone else’s emotionality. Often I walk into a space and feel overcome with emotions that I cannot make heads or tails with inside my own body, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine what’s mine to process. As you can imagine, it’s quite a lot to unpack at the end of the day. It’s heavy and I have yet to figure out how to put a cap on it. During the holiday season, it’s like in stereo.

I can’t even walk around Target, the greatest place on Earth, without having to fight the sudden urge to set myself on fire and run through the aisles screaming, “SAVE YOURSELVES!!” 

In years past, I’ve restarted and quit smoking cigarettes at least three times between November and January…because the pain in me honors the pain in you and it’s ruining my life.

2. The messages are clear — I would definitely be happier if I wasn’t choosing to be such an ungrateful douchecanoe. 

It’s my understanding that the “spirit” of Christmas is supposed to produce some level of inner merriment that I just don’t get. The season begins during my annually scheduled trip to Hardcore Depression & Stifling Anxiety Island. It’s often quite difficult to stray from its strict itinerary of paranoia and emotional angst long enough to focus on anything else. It’s hard for me to feel happy when feeling so useless. 

I struggle to find the strength to get out of bed when I feel like this. Never mind the guilt of lost opportunities to make glorious memories with my children (that don’t involve me yelling or hiding in the bathroom) before they grow up tomorrow and leave me forever. 

This pressure-washed season of joyful bliss highlights the fact that I should be happy — that there is definitely something wrong with me because I can’t get myself there.

I mean, there are people literally dying; alone, starving, and scared! I am privileged and have an amazing life without want. How dare I feel so sad? What kind of a monster am I?

So, I usually fake it, and that makes me even more tired and irritable. 

“I’m sorry, I can’t get to Christmas right now, because I’m anxious, depressed, and find you extremely exhausting. I don’t want to have to go to jail for physically assaulting you, so please leave a message. BEEEEEEEEP”

3. It’s possible everyone I love is going to die.

For some ungodly reason, my depression-fueled anxiety is hyper-focused around death and loss. So, every time someone I love leaves the house, I feel like I might never see them again and prepare myself for the phone call and immediately jump to having to live without them.

Festive, right? Sign me up.

It’s hard to get excited about things when everyone is probably going to die. 

Holidays and mental problems are like best friends.

4. People are legit trying to kill me.

If I do manage to wrangle my plethora of mental angst long enough to make it out the door during the holiday rush, I’m usually met with at least ten people trying to get wherever they are going ten minutes ago. They are determined to make it to Walmart in a flash, even if it means killing everyone on the way, because Christmas is coming gotdammit, and those presents aren’t going to buy themselves.During this festive holiday season, even a trip to the store for milk can result in barely escaping death by shiny SUV blasting Andy Williams (which is most likely the reason Christmas music makes me stabby). When I’m depressed, anxious and my life is threatened, my typical response is rage.Obviously everyone is pretty stoked to find out we’re taking my car.


5. Commercialism

I feel like I’m confused about what Christmas is about. As a recovering Catholic, I have vague memories about it having something to do with the birth of Jesus, but who can be sure anymore? I’m no longer “Catholic,” (mostly because I loathe guilt), but I know Jesus is supposed to be in here somewhere.

It’s almost like Christmas has become super trendy; some brilliantly crafted, Hallmark holiday. 

We hide behind the blinding “spirit” of the holiday. We talk about how it’s really about family, and “the most wonderful time of the year,” but most of our conversations concerning Christmas revolve around what we’re “getting.” We make lists to include people we perhaps haven’t even thought about all year (unless we follow them on Facebook). Small talk becomes, “What are you getting the kids this year?” Oh, what’s that new gadget my kid desperately wants, but won’t actually feel any gratitude for because I’ve trained him to believe that want equals get? Right.

We dress our families in uncomfortable, itchy clothing they wouldn’t be caught dead in, and ask them to sit still and smile long enough to capture the perfect picture – a picture that encapsulates no part of our real lives – so that we can mail them out to people who might be jealous of our faux display of perfection or the time we had to even send out cards with all these kids running around. 

That year I said, “Fuck it.” Let’s get real honest.

It feels like the spirit of Christmas has been invaded, snatched up, and replaced by the spirit of me me me, and maybe I’m just no good at pretending it hasn’t. If that makes me less of a “Christmas person,” I’m okay with it. Because seriously, if this is the most wonderful time of the year, I fear we might all be legitimately fucked.

Please stay safe, and take care this holiday season. If you, like me, are prone to depression and anxiety, please reach out. 

Sober Mommies – Closed Group   A group supporting women in or contemplating recovery from substance use and misuse


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