The Most Wonderful Time of the Year???

Have you ever really paid attention to those lyrics of that well-known carol? Maybe it is the therapist lens that I look at the world through, but I really don’t think you have to be a Grinch to find at least a few things listed in this song that make you feel anxious. Take a look:

It's the most wonderful time of the year, song writers

It's the most wonderful time of the year

[No pressure here….]

With the kids jingle belling

[For the love kids, please stop the Jingling every Bell]

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

[umm thanks for telling me how to feel?!]

It's the most wonderful time of the year

[again no pressure with these expectations!]


It's the hap-happiest season of all

[Not for everyone….]

With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings

[we all know people who get triggered by a well-meaning Merry Christmas]

When friends come to call

[Please, oh Please, don’t show up unannounced…and if you do, you better be the kind of friend who doesn’t care how messy my house is!]

It's the hap-happiest season of all

[Hmmmm…is it though??]


There'll be parties for hosting

[That’s a lot of work, even if it is fun once it happens!]

Marshmallows for toasting

[obviously NOT written by a mom who had to keep her kids from burning their tongue on melted sugar]

And caroling out in the snow

[oooh pretty, “kids, stick with the group, and keep your mittens on, we don’t need a trip to the hospital for frostbite”]

There'll be scary ghost stories

[yeah, because kids who are already creeped out by the old man who breaks into their house while they sleep need ghost stories too!]

And tales of the glories of the

[ok…I can’t complain about this one.]

Christmases long, long ago

[unless…does this lead to the comparison trap?]


It's the most wonderful time of the year

[But what if it isn’t, is there something wrong with me?]

There'll be much mistltoeing

[a plant does not override consent!]

And hearts will be glowing

[except for all those who are single, mourning, or unhappily coupled…or even had a nasty fight with their otherwise awesome spouse on the way to this Christmas chaos]

When love ones are near

[the #1 reported Holiday stress is dealing with extended family]

It's the most wonderful time of the year

[more pressure…]

OK so maybe I sounds a BIT cynical, but I actually love a lot about the Holidays, honestly I do. But one thing I really do NOT love is the pressure put on people, by others, by ourselves…a pressure that just because the calendar turned to December and Christmas music is playing on the radio that everything has to be Holly Jolly. That just isn’t realistic. In fact, studies have shown that reported stress levels increase dramatically for this month, eventually dying back down after people give up on their New Year’s resolutions.

In Addition to the triggers listed in that wonderful song above, the major holiday stressors include:

  • Financial stressors, how to give everyone everything you could want to without being in debt till next Christmas or beyond to pay it off.
  • How to deal with family members you get to gracefully ignore the rest of the year.
  • How to find “the perfect gift”
  • How to balance time off and financial stuff
  • Painful memories from this time of year
  • The sheer energy radiating off of small children everywhere, causing even the best of parents to question their sanity.
  • The poor nutrition and high sugar content that does wonders to sky rocket our stress
  • Watching the scale go up this time of year
  • Grieving a recent loss
  • Not being happy in a relationship
  • Health Issues
  • Traffic and travel stress
  • And for many…wishing they had made more progress over the last year of their life.
  • Probably 100 more reasons…

I promise I am not trying to be Debbie Downer, but the reality is there are plenty of honest, strong reasons to not be filled with joy this time of year. Generally, I try to encourage people to find the things that are good, but sometimes it is just really hard to go there.

So here is my 5 step plan for dealing with the season, when it isn’t the Hap-Happiest season of all.

  1. Breathe in. Breathe Out. Repeat.- Seriously, take time to breathe. Take time to do some things that are extra relaxing. When you know it is a hard time of year for your, or month, or day, self- care yourself like it is your job…because it kind of is.
  2. Simplify- Take some things out of your schedule. You don’t have to do every single event you are invited to. You can say no, and probably should to some things.
  3. Budget and Set Boundaries. Limits are good. There is freedom within limits. Just like saying No to events, say no to spending and also of giving of yourself (you know….self-care)
  4. You are not alone- Remember that. You are not the only miserable person while everyone is a cheery elf. If you look back at the stressor list, probably everyone you know is struggling with something on that list, some more than others.
  5. Give yourself the gift of grace- you do not need to orchestrate the perfect Christmas. You are allowed to be in a bad mood sometimes. It is OK if you need extra self-care to maintain sanity. If this holiday season is hard, that doesn’t mean they will all be and the good news is this season comes every year!

What helps you get through the harder parts of the season??

In case you want to check out the non-cynical version of the song...