When The Holidays Feel Sad or Lonely – Keeping the JOY in Christmas

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

The holidays are typically met with joy & excitement. But not everyone feels happy this time of year. Whether grief, divorce, stress or something else, some have a hard time finding the joy in Christmas.

Is there anything you can do? Read on, dear friends.

I'm working on staying out of the Christmas Funk this year. Many things about the holidays are being re-examined. How do you stay positive? #TexasHomesteader

I love Christmas! I really do. The sparkling lights, the gatherings, the food…

But even with all this seasonal joy I find myself falling into a dark sadness sometimes during the holidays. Maybe you do too?

Feeling Sadness During The Holidays

There are many reasons some may experience sadness during the holidays:

Grief from the loss of a loved one.

Divorce / Separation.

Financial troubles.



You’re Not Alone, Many Feel Sadness During Holidays

Feeling blue during the holidays is actually more common than you might think. According to Health News:

    • 66% of people experienced increased loneliness.
    • 63% felt too much pressure around the holidays.
    • 57% had unrealistic expectations about Christmas and the holidays.
    • 55% found themselves remembering happier times in the past compared to the present.
    • 50% were sad about being unable to be with loved ones.

Sometimes the holidays become an emotional challenge for me too. Occasionally so much so that I can’t even see the abundant blessings that are heaped all around me. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.)

Some people may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) According to the Mayo Clinic, S.A.D. is felt primarily in the fall & winter months when there’s less sunlight and may lead to feelings of depression.

How To Cope With Holiday Stress & Depression

I’ve written before about How To Simplify Christmas To Reduce Stress. I urge you to check that out, there’s lots of good information there.

And according to WebbMD on Coping With Holiday Stress there are a few more tips to keep in mind:

    1. Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
    2. Set realistic goals for yourself.
    3. Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
    4. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. 
    5. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
    6. Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Eve).
    7. Live and enjoy the present.
    8. Look to the future with optimism.
    9. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
    10. If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
    11. Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, etc.
    12. Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
    13. Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
    14. Spend time with supportive and caring people.
    15. Reach out and make new friends.
    16. Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
    17. Make time for yourself!
    18. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
    19. Keep track of your holiday spending. 

I also feel it’s important to remember that your friends are Showing Highlights Of Their Holidays on social media. 

But make no mistake, behind the camera they have their chaotic times the same as everyone else.

What you're seeing on social media isn't the whole story. #TexasHomesteader

It’s a good idea to limit social media if it causes you uneasiness. 

Familial Expectations at Christmas

I have visions of perfection at Christmas and, well, we don’t live in a perfect world.

I’d love to gather all of our children (and grandchildren) under one roof and celebrate a good old-fashioned Christmas as a family like we used to. 

But some years I feel that RancherMan & I don’t receive the same holiday attendance that other family members might receive from our kids. I get my feelings hurt sometimes, but this is something I’m working on.

I’m learning to accept that Christmas is not always my version of perfection. That the holidays will not always look like a Norman Rockwell image.

Stressing Over Gifts – Purchased Or Handmade?

There are some people who absolutely love shopping & finding just the right gift for each person on their gift list. 

Giving the perfect gift decorated beautifully is sometimes difficult. #TexasHomesteader

But make no mistake: Gift-Buying is not my talent.

I always stress about gifts. “Do they need this? Do they already have one of these? Is this even something they’d want?”

So RancherMan & I decided long ago to make our gifts each year.

An easy gift idea is wood cutting boards. #TexasHomesteader

Yes it’s true that this alleviates the Christmas shopping push-n-shove. But sometimes these homemade gifts stress me out too. Will they appreciate this? Is it worth all the time & effort we’re putting into it?

This second-guessing our gift-giving is also something I’m working on.

Expecting Perfection When Presenting Gifts

Here’s where the struggle gets real, y’all!  Mama always says ‘Presentation Is Half The Gift so I always fuss majorly with the actual gift presentation. Enough to make RancherMan pull his hair out each & every year! 

I worry about how to ‘package’ the our homemade gifts to give them the most ‘pop’. Then it takes days (and a HUGE mess) to just to complete a few gift baskets. And that’s AFTER all the gift items had been handmade!

Do all those hours of work on just the presentation itself really garner more than a cursory glance from gift recipients? 

Probably not.

What Brings Me Christmas Joy?

So I’m focusing on those things that bring me Christmas joy. Of course as a Christian, the celebration of the birth of Christ is deeply meaningful for me. I lean heavily on my faith to help keep me grounded during the holidays.

I also enjoy decorating our small tree with sentimental ornaments too.

Christmas decoration - baby's 1st Christmas 1989 Hallmark ornament. #TexasHomesteader

And of course I love gathering with our extended family who have always been a close-knit group.

Time to Take A Breath – Perfection Is Not Necessary!

Here are the steps I’m taking for myself to keep the JOY in my holiday this year:

    1. Surround myself with those holiday traditions that bring me joy. Simple decorations, homemade hot cocoa, a fire in the fireplace – good friends & the love of family.

    2. Remembering our heartfelt homemade gifts don’t have to be perfect as long as they’re made with love.

    3. Our gifts can be presented nicely without going overboard & striving for perfection.

    4. Family who attend our gatherings will be appreciated and I’ll strive to be understanding of those whom cannot attend.

Do you find yourself in a funk this time of year? What do you do to try to alleviate the blues? How do you keep the joy in your holiday?



This post categorized in    

Tagged in  All our favorite posts about Christmas Holidays. #TexasHomesteader    Posts about family and relationships. #TexasHomesteader   

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8 thoughts on “When The Holidays Feel Sad or Lonely – Keeping the JOY in Christmas

  1. Patty

    I have always loved Christmas, and still do, but it is also the hardest season for me. Our only son cut himself out of our lives a few years ago and refuses contact, so I have many bouts of sadness when everything is supposed to be happy and joyful. And my husband and I live and work in different states, so it’s a lonely time as well. We have many blessings, and we will be together for the actual holiday, but the season before is tough. I get through it by praying a lot, and immersing myself in as many of the other trappings as I can – viewing light displays (lots of beautiful ones here in the Texas hill country!), free concerts, church services, and of course the classic movies like Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim’s version is the best!), White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Charlie Brown Christmas.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The absence of beloved family members sure makes it hard, doesn’t it Patty? I’m so sorry you deal with that sadness – I’ve lifted a prayer that your son’s heart will be touched & he’ll come around. (HUGS) In the meantime, good for you for filling your world with comforting joys until you & your hubby can finally spend the holiday together. I too love the holiday classics. I’m doubly thrilled that RancherMan can usually obtain electronic copies – no commercials! Yea. ~TxH~

  2. robin lebleu

    If spending all that time and effort doesn’t make you happy, then it isn’t worth doing. If simple leaves you feeling incomplete, then it’s worth the effort, regardless of the recipient’s response.
    Wrapping should be fun.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I don’t know Robin, I see it like this – Some people like to knit, some do not. Some people like to garden, some do not. Some people absolutely love spending time creating a beautifully-wrapped gift, some do not. I’ve never enjoyed wrapping gifts, it’s never been something that’s fun for me. But I’ve always felt it’s important to present gifts beautifully, so I spend extra time on it anyway. I’m sure there’s a balance between doing it and second-guessing, redoing & stressing about it. ~TxH~

  3. Pam Kaufman

    Christmas is hard. All the expectations hit with a reality we wish wasn’t there. When dysfunction is the normal but we want so badly to be that family in the Hallmark movie. I understand exactly how you feel. It’s a struggle every year.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I think I’m somewhere in the middle Pam. Our family isn’t dysfunctional at all – in fact we’re all very close and loving. My biggest hurdle is learning to share our kid’s time with all the other family members that get ‘their turn’ during the holidays. In laws are often in the picture too and that just spreads the visits thinner. It’s something I’m working on, keeping the Joy in the holiday even if none of our kids are present when the rest of our family gathers together to celebrate. ~TxH~

  4. Cynthia D

    This is how I feel. Like something is missing. I am really having to push myself this year to get things done. I use to be one of those people who had all presents purchased and wrapped by Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend I would make Christmas cookies and freeze them. But not now. Yesterday, we had snow and I played in the snow with the grandkids and that boosted my mood. They are so excited about Christmas, its catching!

    Good luck on your Christmas gathering.

    Merry Christmas to ALL!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Me too Cynthia – in the past I was always anxious to get the season started. Always excitedly decorating & anticipating. I still love Christmas but I think since we moved out here we feel somewhat isolated. We now take turns having various family members host Christmas celebration in hopes of the kids being more apt to be in attendance because it’s closer for them. Hopefully that helps keep that Joy in our Christmas. Celebrating with our kids & grandbabies is one of the biggest joy-producers in our holiday! And I think their absence is what brings me down each year. ~TxH~


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