Bringing Back the Childlike Holidays

Holidays can be a season of brightness and joy. However, for those with depression, this time of year can be overwhelming. Instead of feeling cheery, you simply have to force a smile on your face. Even for those without mental illness, Christmas may be a difficult time of year.

When did this shift from joy to hopelessness happen? For many children, this season is a magical time of year filled with treats, religious hope, presents, family, and fun in the snow. What changed as we grew up? Who or what stole away the mysterious, jubilant, fascinating nature of Christmas?

There are many elements that can take away our childlike spirit in daily life. Christmas time brings even more struggles. Here are some of the main ones that I face at this time of year:

  • Feeling pressured to be happy despite being depressed
  • Lack of sunlight and lengthening nights
  • Less structured time outside of school
  • Huge gatherings of people
  • Food everywhere
  • People talking about dieting or gaining weight
  • Giving gifts to others who do not care as much about you as you care about them
  • Pressure to look beautiful
  • Balancing gift giving with lack of money
  • Bad memories of past Christmases
  • Feeling spiritually empty

However, there is hope for getting back some of the childlike wonder of Christmas. No, we cannot reverse time and feel exactly the same. Still, allowing ourselves to be in the moment and notice the small, beautiful things can be a step in the right direction.

My feet crunch in the snow. Stars twinkle above me. Maybe the angels sound a bit like the tea pot whistling on my stove. Or perhaps they sound more like the new couple whispering to each other in the table next to mine. Peppermint wafts from the girl’s mocha, blended with a hint of coffee.

By noticing the little moments and thinking back to my childhood, I am able to find some of the joy in Christmas that I once held so dear.  Also, despite guilt that I am not spiritual enough, I find that concentrating deeply on the Nativity brings back my wonder. A new baby with parents who are overwhelmed and a bit confused while still basking in the beauty and majesty of the moment. Braying donkeys, smelly shepherds, blinding angels, busy townspeople – all of it is a bit magical while still so ordinary. Seeing that as a child makes me feel it more deeply.

Whether you love this holiday season or hate it, I hope that you are able to experience it for at least a minute like a child. How is that different than your normal point of view? Perhaps we all need to take some time to get back in touch with our youthfulness to fully celebrate this time of year.

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4 thoughts on “Bringing Back the Childlike Holidays

  1. jefairgrieve says:

    Thank you for writing this, Anna Rose! I am elderly and no longer feel a need to observe the Christmas season according to the dictates of the media advertising as I did when I was younger and raising my kids. I observe Advent rather than go all out for Christmas. Advent is low-key and meditative, and I love the Advent wreaths and lighting the candles each Sunday. On Christmas Eve I focus on the miracle of the Nativity and continue this focus for the Sundays in Christmas. In fact, for the past twenty years or so, I’ve made a practice of finding at least one miracle during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. There is ALWAYS at least one miracle! And sometimes there are more than one! I count those miracles as gifts. And sometimes I write about the gifts. The process of writing helps me stay focused on what I experience beneath the surface of the holidays.

    I believe that as we go through life and as we age, we are apt to change our perceptions of Christmas just naturally. I have been able to recapture my childhood experience of Christmas by writing about it so that my friends and family can share my perceptions and feelings. But at my present stage of life, I am happy with the way I experience the Advent and Christmas season now. I see us as snowballs–we gather the richness of our experiences as we roll through life, so the experiences become a bit different as we gather layers of meaning. My belief–enjoy and appreciate your Christmas experience for what it is now and don’t expect your experience to fit the mold. Blessings . . .

  2. God bless you and Rainn Wilson(soulpancake) for this great post!

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