McGregor Says: Cheer up and keep it simple

Many people feel overwhelmed by the expectations they place on themselves at Christmastime, says our columnist

I have run into two people this week who have told me that they are either getting more and more depressed as Christmas gets closer or they have already had enough of the Christmas TV commercials, lights and music.

That doesn’t seem like a positive way to be entering into what we have come to believe is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

So I decided to do some research on why someone may be feeling that way. I read some websites, I talked to some friends and family and I became aware that this is a bigger problem than I thought.

Now, my family just figured that I was building up to some new reason why they weren’t going to get cards or gifts again this year and, because they are generally a happy bunch, I got nothing valuable I could use from them.

However some other folks said they start to stress about the cost of Christmas.

The presents, the food, the tree and all the other parts and pieces of Christmas that we are expected to purchase and display, all come with a dollar sign attached.

Very few people save for Christmas and, knowing they will be increasing their debt load can be depressing.

Others were not looking forward to the family gatherings. Some because somebody they didn’t want there might show up and others because, for the first time this year, someone who has always been there for Christmas won’t be at the table.

The family gatherings also mean too much food, too much drink and others say there is just not enough time to pull it all together, get the shopping done, send the cards out and cook the turkey.

Then I stumbled on some great advice, something we all can do, just lower your expectations. We have become victims of all the hype about the perfect Christmas house, the perfect gift, the perfect dinner that we not only try to provide, we expect from others.

The quote said: “Don’t accept any “perfect” representation of Christmas that the media, institutions or other people try to make you believe. Lower your expectations and any attachment to what it should look like; be present and enjoy each moment as best you can.”

If you don’t want to buy everyone gifts, don’t. Phone them and wish them a Merry Christmas or send them a card. Give hugs and handshakes that don’t have to be wrapped and they are usually gratefully accepted.

If you really don’t feel comfortable going to the big family dinner, don’t go. There are lots of shelters and churches that are providing Christmas dinners and would love your help and nobody there will be sorry you showed up.

Spend the Christmas season doing what makes you happy, not depressed. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it and feel bad.

Put five bucks in a kettle on the corner and you’ll be surprised at how good you feel when they wish you ‘Merry Christmas!’

Remember the little tree you used to have with the homemade decorations and the simple stockings from your sock drawer hung up for Santa. Remember how happy you were back then? Remember when mandarin oranges, some hard ribbon candy and some walnuts were special gifts? Remember when the only Christmas light was a star above a stable?

Depression is about yesterday, anxiety is about tomorrow. Live for today. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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