Every year it settles in like a warm blanket. Sure enough when the calendar hits December, fear, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of sadness settle in. I think part of it is the lack of sunlight. This is why I can’t live in Cleveland again: not enough sunny days. Most nights my body tells me it’s time for bed as soon as the sun goes down. It’s also the weather that is cold and rainy in Nashville. I much prefer Christmas shopping in the snow rather than rain.
Part of it is that my routine has to go completely out the window. My life is run like a well-oiled machine with carefully planned routines that get everyone and everything where it needs to go. But you add in a few holiday parties and Christmas shopping and the routine goes right out the window. I can’t wait for January when I can make new routines and get back on schedule. For a control freak like me, the holidays are a troublesome interruption. My routines are how I control my world and in December my world feels completely out of control, which leads to fear and anxiety and that overwhelmed feeling I just can’t shake.
Part of it is the pressure of the whole month. The pressure of buying just the right gift. The pressure of making positive, happy memories for your kids that they will treasure for years to come. The pressure of giving to charities and not having enough money to give to everyone that asks. The ringing bell outside every store that tells me I should be giving more. The pressure of building traditions that reflect the true meaning of Christmas.
Part of it is the loneliness. The busy-ness of the month changes everyone’s schedule and some of the friendships I rely on during the year, don’t function the same way. Sure the month is full of people at parties and such, but what my soul longs for is that face-to-face time in deep conversation with friends. I miss them. And I miss my family in Ohio and wish that I could be a part of their lives more.
For many years, I tried all sorts of things to avoid feeling depressed. One year I tried hibernating. I told my husband I wasn’t leaving our small, country town, even to go to church. It was just all too overwhelming. I’ve tried planning ahead, and Christmas shopping in September. I’ve tried every sort of devotional I could find and being extra intentional about having a quiet time every day. Last year I went to counseling at my husband’s request. But none of it keeps the December depression away. So now my husband and I expect it and make allowances for it. It’s just how December is. And December will come to an end.
I write this to you, not to garner pity, not to make you feel bad for me and definitely not to depress you. I know that I’m not the only one for whom this is not the “happiest season of all.” I know that this time of year holds mixed feelings for many of us. I know that I am not alone. I write this because over the next few weeks I will be posting some thoughts about this time of year, and I wanted you to know where I’m coming from. Hopefully the posts won’t be as depressing as this one. Hopefully they will be sincere and honest, and maybe even thought-provoking. The ironic thing is that I have my first two speaking engagements in December for Christmas events. (Please pray for me!) I smile because I know that even in the midst of my December depression, God is with me and that He has not left me alone. I know that He is there, and I trust that He has special things for me in December.