By: Lacie Kunselman
Originally published: November 27, 2020
This article is part of The Current’s “Throwback Thursday” series.
It’s been a rough year.
Desperate for anything to celebrate, many chose to mark November 1st as the official start of the holiday season. As soon as Halloween ended, people started seeking serotonin by putting up Christmas trees and blasting Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” (which was streamed 1.14 million times the first two days of November).
Since August, internet users have been looking forward to winter break and the holidays. TikTok user Lilly James began her account in July and posts only Christmas content, which has earned her nearly 700,000 followers and 12.3 million likes as of November 5.
Twitter users agree there’s no shame in going all out for the holidays if that’s what makes people happy. User @TachelBrown tweeted, “Don’t gatekeep when people can start celebrating Christmas this year. It’s been an awful year. Just let us have this one ounce of joy and put up our decorations early this year.”
What happens when the holidays actually get here though? Celebrations won’t look the same if they’re done safely, and COVID-19 won’t disappear when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Holiday celebrations that don’t adapt to fit COVID-19 precautions could result in deadly outcomes if the coronavirus joins the celebration, too. Are all of these expectations of a perfect, redeeming holiday season setting people up for a major letdown?
Post holiday depression is real. According to licensed psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker, “Some studies show as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays. The hype and excitement and, yes, expectation, for jolliness buoy up many in the buildup to the Big Day. But then expectations hit reality.”
There are a few things holiday-lovers can do before and during the holiday season to make the most of the holidays without setting themselves up for disappointment.
Start planning new COVID-safe activities to do with friends and family, whether it’s a Zoom movie marathon, doing a cookie swap with friends by delivering treats to their door or six-foot-apart sledding.
Make sure there are things to look forward to after the holiday season passes to minimize the letdown. It can also help to spend time doing things to help others. Most people feel an element of disappointment when the holidays end, so brighten a friend or relative’s day by sending a note in the mail or spend time volunteering in a safe way to affect those who are hurting even more during the COVID-19 holiday season.
For those who want to be safe and protect their loved ones, they have to realize the holidays will look different this year. Less people are traveling, families may choose to celebrate together virtually instead of in-person and traditions will have to be adjusted or cancelled to keep everyone safe. It won’t feel exactly the same as the years before, but that doesn’t mean the holiday season has to be as rough as the rest of the year has been so far.
Lacie Kunselman is a second-year student pursuing a double major in professional writing and public relations. She aspires to one day be managing editor for a magazine or be a PR executive at a sustainable fashion or lifestyle brand. Her less-academic pursuits include beach volleyball, macrame and thrift shopping.