Saturday, December 26, 2020

Post-Christmas Day Blues

It doesn't happen every year, but often I feel a bit blue the day after Christmas (Boxing Day in the UK and the Commonwealth). This is the case this year. This is not unusual for me, as I also experience the blues following such holidays as the 4th of July and Halloween. What sets my post-Christmas Day blues apart from the blues I experience after the 4th of July and Halloween, is that while I might at most be blue for one or two days following those holidays, the blues I experience after Christmas Day can vary in length. Sometimes I may only be blue on Boxing Day. Sometimes it might well extend past New Year's Day. Here I want to stress that I am not depressed. I don't lose interest in the activities I enjoy, and I can still feel pleasure from the things I enjoy. I simply feel a bit of melancholy. I also have to say that I know it is not due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise it would happen every single year. In fact, I don't experience SAD in winter. For me that is something I go through every summer.

Of course, I am not alone in experiencing post-Christmas Day blues. It appears to affect a large swathe of the population. As to the cause, a lot of articles on the internet seem to attribute it to Christmas not living up to individuals' expectations. Quite simply, the reality of Christmas did not live up to the individuals' expectations of what they thought Christmas should be. That having been said, I don't think this is true for many people and I know it certainly isn't for me. I usually have very good Christmases, filled with everything I love about the holiday. This year was certainly no different. If I am blue today, it is not because Christmas did not live up to my expectations.

I think in my case my post-Christmas Day blues stem more from two things. First is the fact that Christmas is my favourite holiday. It is literally the most wonderful time of the year for me. Second is the fact that the time during which the United States celebrates Christmas is at odds with Christmastide as observed by various Christian denominations (Catholicism, Anglicanism, Methodism, and others), the traditional 12 Days of Christmas. In the United States the Christmas shopping season, and hence the time when Christmas has been celebrated the past many years, lasts from Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to Christmas Day. In many, many ways, this is an awkward time to celebrate Christmas. Christmas in American popular culture is closely tied to winter. Images of Christmas evoke snow, icicles, snowmen, and so on. In contrast, on Black Friday it is still very much autumn. In most of the United States, snow is a very remote possibility in late November. In fact, it is very remote possibility in much of the United States even in December.  The Christmas shopping season actually ends at the time when the possibility of snow is at its greatest the entire season.

In contrast, Christmastide as observed by various Christian denominations runs from sunset on December 24 (Christmas Eve) to sunset on January 6. Quite simply, Christmastide is the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas from the song. For much of the United States, the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas fits the imagery of Christmas much better than the Christmas shopping season. The chances of snow increase dramatically the further one gets into winter. Here in mid-Missouri, I can recall a few actual white Christmases in my lifetime. I can recall many more white New Year's Days and even more snowy days in the first week of January.

Anyway, what all of this amounts to is that many in the United States are through celebrating Christmas not long after it actually begins to feel like the holiday to me. On Boxing Day many individuals and businesses will take down their decorations. Except for a few industries (such as the automobile industry), Christmas themed commercials disappear from television stations. Radio stations stop playing Christmas songs. It is true many will keep their Christmas decorations up until New Year's Day or even January 2. It is true the Hallmark Channel will continue to show Christmas movies until January 1 (of course, they started them before it was even Halloween *grumble*). Still, so many have ceased celebrating Christmas that it can't help but affect my mood. For many Christmas is over, so that while I recognize the traditional Christmastide, I can't help but feel blue.

Fortunately post-Christmas blues don't last long for me. Often I am over them by the day after Boxing Day. For those times when my post-Christmas blues do last longer, I do have ways of dealing with them. If the weather permits, I will go for walks, which usually lift my spirits. As is the custom in my family, I keep my Christmas decorations up, including the lights and tree, until New Year's Day or January 2. I will continue to listen to Christmas music and watch the occasional Christmas movie. Over the years I have learned that this tends to lift my spirits and help me make it into the New Year.

For those of you who are also suffering post-Christmas blues, all I have to say is that you should hang in there. Continue to celebrate Christmas as long as you wish (the whole Christmastide if you wish). Eventually the New Year will come around. And Christmas will return next year.

No comments: