12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
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This is a Guest Post from Cherie at Queen of Free
I’m notorious within our family for leaving up the Christmas decor way too long. I’m not talking about a winter’s wreath here or there. No, I go big or go home in the form of a fully decorated tree still lit late into January and maybe once or twice February. I chalk my extended celebration up to two parts procrastination, one part lazy, one part busy, and a bigger part of than I’d like to admit disappointment.
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Because, when I take down the Christmas tree and pack away the Advent wreath, when I box up the cheerful lights, bows, and ornaments, I come to the grips with the realization that Christmas really is over. The hustle and bustle of holiday parties have come to an end. Seeing my children captured by the joy of giving and receiving parts ways for another calendar year. The delight of opening packages, baking cookies, and singing my favorite carols departs.
While any season of life can be magical, the memories and traditions of Christmas bring with them a whimsy difficult to capture any other time of the year. Resuming our “normal” lives often seems a flat experience, without color or excitement. We find ourselves flustered and overwhelmed by a somewhat mundane experience of the day-to-day of a new year.
Post holiday blues like these can arise from a number of distinct different areas of our lives. Identifying our needs and defining coping strategies may not completely eliminate the lackluster of the long winter months post Christmas, but it can ease some of the tension and sadness we may experience.
Face Your Finances
It’s easy to go overboard during the holidays. There always seems to be one more gift, one more holiday or Christmas party, one more forgotten purchase to make everything “just so.” Add to that the need to hit the drive through before or after the Christmas concert, treats for your neighbors, and a charitable donation to make a difference in the world. Don’t even get me started on how much I love adorable wrapping paper and bows but still recognize that I’m purchasing items that will be thrown away as soon as the gifts are unwrapped.
When it comes to your money and the days following Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the temptation to bury your head in the sand is great. Knowing you’ll have to deal with excessive spending or out of sync finances brings your spirits low much faster than untangling the holiday lights. However, facing the facts can actually bring a greater relief than covering your eyes.
Reconciling your spending and getting a good handle on your money as the new year begins positions you for success. Hiding from the truth only leads to more problems. Not sure where to begin? Check out the free printable budget forms on Queen of Free.
Eat Nutritious Foods
The Christmas season brings with it great feasting. And that feasting is so wonderful. But often it sets unhealthy patterns into play. It seems counterintuitive but the more sugar you consume, the less energy you have. Your energy level influences your psyche. It’s time to clean out the cabinets and toss the cookies – the ones not yet consumed, that is.
Head to the grocery store to pick up the fruits and veggies you love. Don’t shock your system with fancy green drinks if you don’t like (or have never heard of) the ingredients in the recipe. Instead, choose tried and true favorites you know you’ll want to eat. When you get home, peel and chop those items that can be prepared in advance so they’re at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. Place the fruits and veggies in plain sight. I like to use glass bowls in my refrigerator for this reason.
Santa alone can live on gingerbread men and hot cocoa all year long. Your body requires proper fuel to function at its best. The better you eat, the better you feel.
Schedule Intentional Time with Family and Friends
One of the very best things about the holiday season is the community we experience with one another. We’re more intentional about gathering together and spending meaningful time with each other. As soon as the month of December is over, it can be easy to crawl back into our cozy pajamas and never want to leave the house until Spring temperatures return. The lack of laughter, storytelling, and just being with others scoots us right into a post Christmas funk.
However, we need our friends and family. And we don’t have to observe a holiday on the calendar to make that kind of special time happen. Sit down with your calendar and schedule a few dates to spend time with your loved ones. Host a game night. Plan a dinner party. Go to the movies with a group. Or spend a Christmas gift card on dinner out.
I get it. Everyone is busy. But the need for interaction with each other reaches beyond the holidays into every corner of our lives. If you don’t order your priorities when it comes to spending time with your family, it won’t happen. Don’t wait for an invitation. Be the inviter.
Come to Grips With Askew Expectations
More than one season of my life, I’ve placed unrealistic expectations on people, holidays, and even things. I’ve subconsciously thought the experience would bring me something much deeper – intangibles like love, joy, peace, happiness – than it could actually provide. And then when the expectations fall short of reality, I find myself deeply disappointed. I’m upset with others and myself for not rising to the bar of my expectations. In the end, I feel hollow and without hope when this happens.
It’s easy to place our hopes and dreams for a rich life upon things that can never pull that off. Do some introspection and ask yourself whether or not you’ve pinned some expectations upon the holiday season. Reframe your thinking and have an honest conversation with yourself about areas where you may have reached for material goods and human beings to fill holes in your soul and life in ways they can never satisfy.
Get Professional Help
Sometimes the post holiday blues are not just the post holiday blues. You might be struggling with depression or anxiety that you suppressed during the busy holiday season. Once the holidays draw to a close, the same problems resurface. In either case, masking your legitimate mental illness with hustle and bustle of Christmas or brushing off something much more serious as the winter blahs is not wise.
Begin by talking to a counselor or a trusted friend. Your unique situation may require much more than mere behavior modification via a comprehensive treatment plan. If any other area of your body was injured or in need of medical care, you would seek it. Your brain and soul also require attention to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Don’t ignore the problem. Seek help immediately.
Yes, this Christmas season will soon be over. But the calendar moving forward doesn’t mean the wonder of life ceases. While you’re packing away the tree, whisper prayers of gratitude for another season of life, marked by beauty and challenges. Begin planning ahead for next year’s celebration. But don’t forget to enjoy the now and what’s next of your days, too.
One of my favorite authors Madeleine L’Engle once quipped, “Maybe you have to know the darkness to appreciate the light.” Every season of our lives matter, even those filled with the darkness. Take steps in learning to move toward and embrace the light as you move into a new year.
Cherie Lowe is an author, speaker and hope bringer. Her book Slaying the Debt Dragon details her family’s quest to eliminate over $127K in debt in just under four years. As her alter ego the Queen of Free, Cherie provides offbeat money saving tips and debt slaying inspiration on a daily basis.