02Holidays As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized that this would not be the merriest of Christmases for the Criders.

“Sing one more Christmas song and I am not even kidding, I will stab you with a candy cane.” That’s what I’d said. To my best friend. The singing stopped, and a life-changing heart-to-heart followed. We talked about managing priorities, keeping things in perspective, knowing when to say no and when to ask for help.

I was a young mom, and money was tight. My husband was gone for the holidays, our children were small and needy, and I was far from my family. On my best days, I was overwhelmed, lonely, scared and struggling. On my worst, just putting one foot in front of the other took everything I had. Traditions and expectations aside, I was so depressed that I was incapable of rejoicing in or even appreciating the birth of my savior. My world was the darkest it had ever been

In the many years since then, there have been some less-than-perfect and even downright pitiful Christmases and many that were amazingly wonderful, too. But none as bleak as that year.

Every Christmas season, as decorations go up in the stores and the jolly elf takes center stage amidst carols and commercialism, I reflect on that conversation and give thanks for my sweet friend and the wisdom she shared with me that day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday hustle, and when you’re feeling it, it truly is the most beautiful, wonderful — insert all the magical, Christmas-y adjectives here — time of the year. But when you’re not, oh man, is it agony. Trying to force it and fake it, when what you really want is to say f$%& it and hide under your bed until the new year, is a horrible idea. It can make you do crazy things — like threaten to impale your dearest friends with minty holiday confections.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the holiday blues, but there are strategies and resources. Being honest with yourself and those around you is a good place to start.

It’s OK if you don’t love the holidays or if you are struggling. You are not alone.

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