"Happy Holidays" Depression

24 Dec 2016

The first few years of having children were very difficult. I suffered a strange "sadness" over Christmas. There were the "must dos", put up the Christmas tree, the mad shopping dash, buying Christmas gifts, placing them under the tree, waiting for the morning of the 25th and pretending it was all joyful when they were opened.

The underlying sadness was that I terribly missed my mother who passed on when I was a teen. I felt her absence deeply because during the "happy holidays" she would have spoilt her grand-children, cooked the Christmas lunch and made sure everyone was okay. I felt burdened to do what she did, exacerbating my "festive" depression.

Five years ago, I decided, enough is enough. No more toys and gift shopping. If the kids wanted something for Christmas, they said it, a gift voucher was given. I wasn't going to any crowded shopping malls, which under any day overloads my "sensory system" and leaves me physically, emotionally and mentally drained. Surprisingly my family understood.

We no longer have to put up a Christmas tree if we don't want to. We find simple ways to spend time together. We have a barbeque (known as braai in South Africa) on a regurlar basis. We only invite friends that add value to our lives. We don't live the commercial "happy holidays" anymore. We make the happy holidays ourselves. We go to the park, play board games and recently added two "furry" Jack Russell members to our family.

We do simple things that require little physical, emotional, mental and financial input. We have a good time. We create family memories that are beautiful and relaxing.

I still miss my mother over "Christmas", but it is more of an appreciation of who she was than filling her "shoes".

But, I am my own person, a mother. I handle "Christmas" in a way that makes family life work for me.

What a life lesson. I wish I had known this earlier. I would have saved myself many a "Happy Holiday" depression season.

My festive season depression is pretty much under control, and for that I am grateful.

Happy Holidays to my Moodscope Family!


A Moodscope member

A Moodscope member.

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Dec. 24, 2016, 7:32 a.m.

Thanks for the blog Peggy. I enjoyed reading it lots. You have expelled Frau Should from your life very successfully it seems.



Dec. 24, 2016, 7:47 a.m.

Hi Peggs, I'm glad you've found ways of not putting yourself through the things that would make you even more sad. I've cut out alot of it too. My son has helped out enormously this year, I am so thankful. Thank you for an inspiring blog Peggs. Warm wishes to you and all. LP xx



Dec. 24, 2016, 7:50 a.m.

What an inspiring blog, Peggs. I agree with what you say. I have always felt hijacked by the Christmas pressure to shop till you drop, feel jolly when I don't , mix with people who "don't add value" ( love it!) and generally conform under stressful situations when possibly hurting inside. Nowadays, we, as a small family, have righted things, to a situation where it works for us. Hooray for that! And today, my mood and energy levels have lifted. I feel so thankful for that. Best Christmas present you can possibly have. Happy Christmas, Peggs, and many thanks for writing for us.



Dec. 24, 2016, 8:39 a.m.

Hello Peggs. A lovely blog thank you! The main thing is that your family didn't mind the changes you proposed for Christmas. That is the main obstacle for me, not wanting to upset others by doing what is easiest and less stressful for me. You have shown that actually families are more open to change than we think; that they may in fact welcome it. Your blog has given me a great idea for a new years resolution. More change and less sticking to what I have always done. Happy Christmas! Julxx


the room above the garage

Dec. 24, 2016, 9:39 a.m.

Hello Jul, that's my obstacle too...upsetting others. Will need to work on that one. Good to see you x.


Dec. 24, 2016, 10:15 a.m.

Hi ratg. I liked your blog about cupboards! I wanted to comment but I had a house full. I am reframing!! Love to you. Jul ***

Mary Wednesday

Dec. 24, 2016, 8:49 a.m.

Writing this from the seaside, listening to the waves outside. Already I feel the stress leaving. We are doing simple this year. In this I am supported by my lovely family. This morning we will put up the artificial prelit tree and have easy food all day. A time to just relax. Peggy- I am so glad you have found something that works for you. I would love to do a barbecue on our beach but with the temperature at 6 degrees it just wouldn't be fun!


the room above the garage

Dec. 24, 2016, 9:40 a.m.

Thank you Peggy, I support 'logging out' very much. Too true! Thank you, love ratg x.


The Gardener

Dec. 24, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

I swore I would not post today - congratulations to all of you who are resisting the pressure to go OTT, and are going to try and enjoy yourselves simply. Mr G is now rude to everybody - and those who had sympathy for his condition are now highly critical. Because he refuses to move - he slipped to the floor yesterday evening, in the kitchen. I have been forbidden to try and lift him, the firemen, three, arrived and got him up - neighbour saw blue lights and came in with sympathy and offers of help. I swear he enjoyed the fuss. I got him to bed, after he slipped to the floor once again. All round me is kindness, offers of help, hugs and kisses - which keep me in a perpetual state of tearfulness. Peggs, I sympathise with you missing your mother at Christmas - but I am pleased you have good memories, and that you MISS her. My mother was THE wet blanket, spectre at the feast -hyper-critical. Luckily the kids saw her as a sort of joke in their memories - while realising what I suffered from her perpetual moaning.Peace and happiness to you all - even if of no religious belief, it's still THE festival to spend with friends and family. Love to all you lovely people ***



Dec. 24, 2016, 1:20 p.m.

I am glad you have posted!! It sounds as if things at home are subtly changing for you Gardener. You sound stronger even though you may not feel it. But you have the support of others who are now understanding how irascible Mr G is Alzheimers or no Alzheimers.Mr G is a very lucky man having all this attention. I guess he did love it when the firemen came to pick him up off the floor. Can you adopt a position of hiding from him how exasperated you feel so that he doesn't take advantage of your fatigue which will make him demand more and more? If Mr G finds you are happy and at the same time ignoring him when he doesn't really need any attention, perhaps he will withdraw into himself and stop being so demanding? I read in the Times yesterday about Dementia dogs who live with couples where one of them has dementia to enable the OK partner not to be so involved in the tempers and frustration of the Dementia sufferer. For example if the dementia one gets annoyed at forgetting something and has a meltdown, the dog senses this and brings him a toy. So the dog takes the edge off the tension between the couple. Oh well, Have a happy day tomorrow if you can Gardener. Enjoy the company of friends... Jul xx


Dec. 24, 2016, 1:28 p.m.

Hi TG I'm glad that you posted too. I agree with Jul's angle, try not to allow Mr G's negative behaviour to be "rewarded" by attention which it sounds like you're aware of. Am enjoying a moment of peace and am wishing you the same. Hugs. LPxx



Dec. 24, 2016, 1:34 p.m.

Beautiful post Peggs. I am so glad you found what works for you. So important to get out of what is "expected" and find what we need. I too have dialed out, dialed down this year. And I feel so much more relaxed because of it. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the States! Lexi



Dec. 24, 2016, 3:09 p.m.

Hi Lexi! I live in beautiful Colorado. What state are you in?


Dec. 24, 2016, 3:07 p.m.

Hi Peggs - Brilliant post! I'm sure many can relate, it hit home with me. I love Lexi's words "dialed out, dialed down" and have adopted that strategy the last couple years to celebrate Christmas the way that I want to. Family is very important to me and personally my best Christmas is spending time with loved ones. My children are adults and we don't exchange gifts. Their presence is my present! We just get together and hang, relaxing with and enjoying each other... Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! As the New Year approaches I wish all of you much love, peace, and joy...May your star shine brightly! Maria



Dec. 24, 2016, 3:08 p.m.

Thanks for the great post Peggs. After many years of busy Christmas traditions that stressed everyone out, my small immediate family and I have found a way to celebrate in a meaningful way without all the "glitter" and hours of preparation to get things perfect. We light the fire, turn on some Christmas lights, play board games and eat when and what we want. For two days we laugh until our bellies hurt. At least that's the way it was last year and tonight we plan to experience this new tradition again. Happy Holidays from Canada!


The Gardener

Dec. 24, 2016, 5:16 p.m.

Trolling through, nobody has mentioned their strategy for TV. Many years ago we stayed with one of our daughters who cooked a super meal (she had started a catering course but dropped out). She was talking to our other daughter, and they were both talking to us. After lunch we settled with a load of puzzles from the papers. Our daughters realised, with some pride, that they remembered some of what they learned at school and a fair amount of general knowledge. Trivial Pursuits had been a favourite Christmas activity. Then, one of them said 'I must just watch East Enders' - end of Christmas - the TV stayed on and we all drank far too much. I think, for many families who did not want to be together anyway the TV saves the day. Anybody brave enough to pull the plugs out?



Dec. 24, 2016, 10:43 p.m.

Great post. I don't do the big Xmas and much prefer a day at the beach. That was on Thursday. i will join friends tomorrow and have been careful about presents. I asked my lovely brother if he would like an Amazon voucher or to donate to a charity. To my great pleasure he chose the latter and MSF have now had a wee donation. Made my Christmas. Lots of love. BTW I think I have cyclothymia which explains my life!


The Gardener

Dec. 24, 2016, 10:49 p.m.

Having through a very difficult day with Mr G I watched the Alan Bennet diaries - what a writer. Then I watched 'The Lady in the Van' - I don't think I have every seen anything so shatteringly brilliant as Maggie Smith's performance. Now, here, with the hour difference, it's almost Christmas Day - viewed with some trepidation. a very Happy Christmas to all


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