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ASK MERRILY - Holiday Depression

Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on Dec 22,2008
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

Dear Merrily,

Every year at Christmas a debilitating depression overtakes me.  Our family celebrates 10 birthdays during this season.  The mountain of gifts and cards to purchase and send is overwhelming.  I enjoy giving gifts at other times of the year.  But, at Christmas I hate the artificial requirement to go into stores and buy things, using money, time, and energy that I am not willing to spend.  There is frustration in the shopping and in meeting the deadlines for mailing boxes.  At Borders, the Christmas music infuriated me.  
I have tried to make the gift-giving ok.  I ask family members what they want.  I have shop from catalogs, give home-baked goods, money, and even my own things.  I have tried to shop early and from a place of love rather than defeat.  The depression still comes.

I can’t opt out of Christmas as I am a mother and a grandmother. 

Dear Depression,

Underlying issues need to be addressed, as your wholesome attempts to fix the problem have not gone deep enough.

You are powerless to change some things.  Christmas and the 10 birthdays will occur every year.  Gifts will remain a part of the season, especially for grandchildren.  You will remain part of Christmas, as you “can’t opt out.”

Lift the rug of depression and look under the frustration of shopping and deadlines.  A piece of anger or pain is hiding there.  Breathe.  Wait for it to show itself.  Ask a friend to help you.

There may be an unacknowledged Christmas sadness – loss of family, estrangement.  If so, this feeling must become part of Christmas now, or it will express as depression.  Allowing it to surface may allow your depression to move on as a useless habit from an earlier time.

Underlying issues cause holiday depression for many unsuspecting sufferers.  Christmas is a time to open not only gifts but to open our hearts to feelings that have been locked away.

Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks. Email questions to, or use online form at

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