Essays

What to Do When The Holidays Are Hard


The holidays can be hard for me. In case they are for you too, here are some thoughts.

When the Holidays Hurt

Whether you have traumatic memories surrounding the holidays or you have recently lost a loved one and this is your first holiday without them, the holidays can be hard for some.

To those who are less than excited for the upcoming holidays, please know two things:

  1. You are not alone.
  2. You are not broken.

It can feel isolating at a very vulnerable time of the year to not share the same excitement, wonder, or celebratory mood. I’m sorry for whatever you’re going through.

I write about this subject because it is personal to me. I know how hard it can be. Again, you’re not alone.

What Has Helped

Through physical distance and choice, my husband and I spend most holidays on our own. This has allowed me to heal – and on the hard days, it’s allowed me to grieve privately. When I’m feeling up to it, we join family or friends for get-togethers, meals, and parties – when I’m not, we don’t. But the biggest thing that has helped is serving others.

During the holiday season, it’s easy for me to get stuck in difficult and emotionally complex feelings. The seemingly constant reminders of how hard the holidays can be for me and how much easier they seem for others takes its toll. The best antidote for this anytime of the year is service – and that’s what I try to focus on during the holidays.

Light the World

This year, as in past years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has invited anyone who would like to participate in their Christmas campaign. They have shared 25 days of scriptures from the Savior Jesus Christ’s life and ministry as the foundation for their campaigns. Each day in December you can join thousands (if not millions) of others to “light the world” through studying God’s word and serving your fellow man.

“I have found that a sure cure for depression is to realize someone out there needs me. In blessing someone else, my needs and problems are quickly consumed in the warm glow of knowing that I have brightened another’s life and that what I have done is pleasing to the Lord.”

-As quoted in President Gordon B. Hinckley’s BYU address entitled “Forget Yourself”

Last year my husband, daughters, and I participated in this uplifting Christmas activity. We didn’t do something for each day, but we were more aware of others and made more efforts to serve in and outside of our home. Participating in the Light the World activities by no means cured my occasional holiday blues, but they did give me something else to focus on. I was distracted enough from my annual melancholy to not sink as deeply into it.

The 2017 Light the World Campaign

Some Invitations

I invite you to join me and my family in lighting the world this December by participating in the Church’s daily scripture reading and acts of service. I also invite you to give yourself the gift of patience, forgiveness, and understanding if the holidays hold extra emotional baggage for you.

I know that even when I feel utterly alone, I’m not. I know that you aren’t either. I know that the family is ordained of God and it is central to His plan. I also know that family – past, present, and future, lost and living – can be one of the most difficult tests of this life.

During the holidays, and any other time of the year that is difficult, please remember you are not alone. You are loved. And you have worth.

If you feel lonely during the holidays consider reading “Some Thoughts For When You Feel Lonely.”

What to do when the holidays are hard. MiddayMornings.com #christmas #depression #mentalhealth


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