The Christmas Spirit of Love and Joy: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Monday, February 03, 2020
The Holiday Red, Green, and Blues
For most, Christmas is a time of joy, love, friendship, and comradery. The excitement of gift giving, decorations, and family and friend gatherings gives a sense of fulfillment and nostalgia. For others, it can be a time of sadness, loneliness, and high stress.
As a child, and now as an adult, one of my favorite Christmas cartoons is A Charlie Brown Christmas because it illuminates the true value and meaning of Christmas.
Created in 1965 by Charles Schulz during the Vietnam War, the animated cartoon features the now famous Charlie Brown character. In this TV program, Charlie Brown was doing all of the Christmas “things” but couldn’t understand why he was still depressed.
Charlie Brown: “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”
According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, contrary to popular be-lief, December is actually the month with the lowest suicide rates. However, many individuals suffer from what is known as the “Holiday Blues”.
Unlike Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorders, the
“Holiday Blues” are typically temporary and cease to exist after the holiday sea-son. A 2014 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) revealed the following information regarding why people have the “Holiday Blues”:
- 68% Felt financially strained
- 66% Experienced loneliness
- 63% Experience too much pressure
- 57% Unrealistic expectations
- 55% Nostalgic of happier times
- 50% Unable to be with loved ones
Signs of the “Holiday Blues” are easily recognizable and include:
- Withdrawing from things that you would normally enjoy
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Feelings of exhaustion and fatigue
- Feelings of loneliness
- Sleeping much less or much more than normal
Although the “Holiday Blues” are short-term, that doesn’t mean those feelings shouldn’t be acknowledged. Often, these feelings can be managed through lifestyle modifications and support.
In this month’s blog, we will identify the different signs and discuss ways to manage those “Holiday Blues”.
Sally: “Dear Santa Claus, How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want.”
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during the holidays…finding that perfect gift, hosting family and friend functions, a perfectly decorated house—inside and out, but someone has to do all of that!
The most important thing that we can do to combat these feelings is to BE REALISTIC!
NAMI also offers the following advice:
Learn to Say “NO” – You can’t please everyone, so why should you try during the holiday season. Do the best you can and allow yourself some grace. Give it some thought and make a list of pros and cons. If the cons outweigh the pros, politely decline.
Don’t Compare – Remember, everyone is stressed during the holidays. If things aren’t “perfect”, that’s ok!
Lucy Van Pelt: “Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket”
According to Forbes, over $1 trillion dollars was spent during the holidays nationwide—the highest ever recorded! That’s about $920 per per-son!
We have all felt the pressure of trying to find that perfect gift, but let’s not forget the reason that we celebrate. Remember, it’s not how many gifts we give or how expensive the gift is that matters. Christmas is a sea-son to give time—time to our family and friends to create memories that will bring warm feelings of love and joy.
Forbes offers the following tips to stay debt-free during the holidays:
Make your list and check it twice—make a list of those you would like to buy for with an amount to spend. Make sure to review your list and stay within your budget.
Start early—last minute shop-ping increases the chances of over-spending, so start shopping early.
Consider alternative gifts—give a homemade gift, start a gift exchange, or donate to charity in someone’s name.
Avoid debt—create a budget for what you can afford, and stick to it!
Charlie Brown: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus Van Pelt “I didn’t know it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe all it needs is a little love.”
In the program, Charlie Brown is tasked with selecting the perfect aluminum tree for the Christmas play. Despite the expectations, he chooses the only real tree remaining on the lot—a small sapling.
Just like Charlie Brown, feelings of loneliness, isolation, and exclusion are very real to some during the holidays. And just like the small sapling, sometimes all we need is a little love—love and grace from others, but especially from ourselves.
Verywell Mind is an online resource with a mission to improve mental health and finding life balance. According to Verywell Mind, one thing that we can do to cope with feelings of isolation and loneliness is to reach out for help and talk to someone. You may need to seek professional help if symptoms become serious or last longer than the holiday season. Other coping mechanisms include avoiding excessive alcohol, not isolating yourself, and not abandoning good habits, such as exercising and nutrition.
Linus Van Pelt: “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
This Christmas, don’t forget what and why you celebrate! Have some fun, make memories filled with love and joy, give some grace, and practice the art of self love.
Also remember that creating your own Christmas traditions can be just as fulfilling—you can start with creating your New Year goals, volunteering, and donating to those in need to add some perspective.