Dreading the Darkness After the Holiday Lights Come Down


cleaning up pine needles and decorations.We all get caught up in the holidays. We try so hard each year to make them perfect. We decorate the house inside and out, cook, bake, and picture take! Somewhere halfway through the month, it may seem like a burden. All that time feels wasted shopping, fighting crowds at the mall, standing for endless hours on the Santa line. But what happens after the holiday?

As the month comes to a close, though, you may forget about the stresses, and nostalgia may set in. What’s next? What happens when the parties stop, the festive lights come down, and the smell of cookies stops emanating from the oven?

The start of a new year, or the end of the holidays, may bring sadness, dread, and apprehension for many. What feelings get brought up for you as you tuck away the holiday cards you’ve received and box up the ornaments? 

As frenzied and fraught with complicated feelings as the holidays can be, the end of the season can bring a sense of sadness to many people. When anything ends, it can be hard to deal with, especially when the holidays bring a sense of connection with family and friends, and all you see ahead are dark, long winter nights ahead. 

The holidays may be coming to a close, but some of the elements that we look forward to during the season don’t have to. If you are experiencing or anticipating the post-holiday blues, there are some ways to keep your stockings feeling full and your lights feeling bright throughout the year. For starters, think about what makes the holiday season feel so special for you, and see if you can extend that throughout the rest of the year. 

Time With Family

For many of us, the  holiday season reunites families who may live far away. And, it gets families together who may live nearby, but because of the “busyness” of life, it keeps us from seeing each other as often as we’d like. Let’s not forget that we don’t necessarily need a formal occasion to reach out to each other and make an effort to see our loved ones.

Technology comes in handy here. You can continue to visit virtually with grandma and grandpa throughout the year, thanks to Skype and FaceTime. Perhaps this might also be a good time to re-institute that family game night with your kids, or carve out a night once a week to really share a meal together.

Acting Charitably

It’s typically the holiday season where we reach deep into our hearts, pockets, and time to donate charitably. It’s a lovely tradition and the holidays highlight the need and importance of giving. Why not continue to do good deeds and stay involved with organizations and groups throughout the year? This might be a nice time to invest yourself in a specific organization. It’s a great way to stay connected to others and continue the benefits that giving can bring you. It’s been proven that connecting to a group through acts of giving and action can increase one’s subjective sense of happiness and self-satisfaction. 

Keeping Traditions

The holiday season allows traditions from your early history to be re-lived and re-experienced in your present-day life. The ubiquitous Santa pictures through the years, or the lighting of that same menorah made from bottle caps your child made in preschool, are customs that feel important because you can re-live those memories with your kids.

Continuing traditions can reinforce a sense of belonging and connection with each other. That doesn’t need to end when the holidays do. Think about what other rituals were important to you as a child and which ones you wish to share with your children. For example, my husband has fond memories of visiting museums frequently with his parents. He now enjoys this monthly ritual with our kids. As a child, I would often go to Chinatown on Sundays for Dim Sum with my mother. My own family acknowledges Dim Sum now as a special meal we share together for family time. 

Thinking Empathically

Buying gifts for our loved ones takes a lot of thought. It helps us think about who the person on our list is and what they mean to us. Being sensitive to what people around us think and feel is a gift for them, and for ourselves, we can keep throughout the year, after the festivities have long ended. 


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