It starts almost exactly on time every year. As predictable as the change of seasons itself. My December depression settles in like a warm blanket and keeps me company almost every year until my beloved January 1. This year on November 30, I found myself sitting with a friend talking about this pattern and found myself already bawling my eyes out. I start to have anxiety attacks shortly after Thanksgiving when the calendar begins to fill up and can feel the pressure building. Of course, December took on a whole new dimension when I became a mom and was responsible for how my children would remember and celebrate for the rest of their lives. Pressure!
So this blog is my first step in examining the problem. If you are one of those people who insists that this is the happiest time of the year, there is no need to read on. It will simply frustrate you and put you in danger of being depressed. I will see you again in January. However if you too find yourself secretly hating December, I hope you will find comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone.
One of the reasons I hate December is the lack of sunlight. I seriously think that Seasonal Affective Disorder plays into by winter blues. The kids get home at 4:00 and by 5:00 the house is dark unless I go through and turn on every light in the house. I think that’s why people put up Christmas lights outside. We hate the thought of it being so dark all the time. The Christmas lights on my back deck make me smile and give me comfort (mainly because I would be able to spot any intruder before they hit the door). Most nights the every light in the house is on by 5:00 p.m.
Another reason I hate this month is that everywhere I turn it seems that I am not enough. I don’t have enough time to attend every party and every school function. I don’t have enough money to buy everyone the perfect gift, especially my husband whose list seems to contain mainly big ticket electronics which I would love to buy him because he deserves them but simply can’t because there’s not enough money in the checkbook but I know he would spend that much on me. (Hear me hyperventilating? Deep breath…) The other part of the gift giving is the pressure I feel to buy gifts for people I really don’t know any more. I hate the thought of giving them something they wouldn’t want because it exposes the fact that I do not know them which makes me sad because I feel like I should know them if I were good enough at keeping in touch. (Deep breath…)
This year I have come to recognize the root of this problem as a lack of margin. During my regular life in the other 11 months of the year, I run a pretty full schedule and we spend almost every dime we bring in. Yes, we save cash for Christmas, but this year there were some months where the Christmas cash fell off the bottom of the budget. So in December when I have to add in the cost for gifts and the time to do extra events and concerts and programs, I start to freak out. Actually my instinct is to say no to everything and hibernate until January. But that won’t make a very merry Christmas for the other five people in my family.
Finally in December all routines are off. I am a creature of routine (that’s a nice way of saying that I’m a control freak Ice Queen who relies on routine to maintain control). Translation: I feel really out of control n December. Everything has to be flexible to squeeze in that extra time with friends or family; being flexible is a lot of work for me. Then there’s the fact that school is out for two weeks, and what are we to do then? The routine goes out the window because there’s not really enough time to esatblish a new routine, and I’m supposed to plan fun, bonding, forever memorable things to do in the those two weeks that don’t cost any money. Pressure! The thing that falls of the bottom of the schedule is quiet time for me which leads to a stressed out momma. No time for exercise and no time for God and no time to rest. The routine is off, and Mom time doesn’t fit in our no-routine, foot-loose-and-fancy-free December.
So even though I hate December, I have found over the years that God has some special things for me in this most difficult time of the year. Hopefully this month I’ll find some time to write them down so that I can remember all the things God does for me in December. (That’s a sickenly sweet rhyme and I should really stop now before I throw up.)