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Is Christmas a Big Disappointment

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Just a fantasy

Just a fantasy

The Big Disappointment

For many years the holiday season was a big disappointment to me, so much so that on a couple of occasions, I refused to decorate, stating what’s the use. One year I wanted to crawl under the covers and wait till the whole month went away and I could start fresh with a new year.

This year I asked some friends and family is they were looking forward to Christmas or if it was a big disappointment to them. I felt sure I wasn't the only one. I’m including a few of their thoughts here.

Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.

— Winston Churchill

It's a blue Christmas

It's a blue Christmas

Loss

My husband lost his job in 2009 and the following year I lost mine as well. We then lost our home and had to pare down to one car and a one-bedroom apartment. For the most part, I like having less to deal with and less to clean, that is until the holidays come around. That’s when depression hits.

Sheryl: I love celebrating Christ, all the joyful music, decorations, family, and friends coming together! I’m not without my own struggles – miss my Dad and Brother; rear-ended in August, shingles in October. I choose to focus on the good.

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store.

— Dr. Seuss

Decorating with cards

Decorating with cards

Expectations

I don’t want to appear selfish but the truth is that most of it was over finances. I knew that not only could we not get any gifts for our family but we were expecting nothing for ourselves as well. It made me want to cry.

Lynda: My Son called a few days ago and said, “Mom, no gifts! Gifts pile up and I don’t want “stuff” that people will have to go through when I’m gone! All I want is a text message, a few words (he lives far away from me) now and then.” The Gift of no Gifts. If we were near, time spent with each other, a meal together, such simple things can be and are such precious gifts. The holidays should be a celebration of life not about getting in debt.

It will never be just like when you were a kid.

It will never be just like when you were a kid.

Financial Worries

We have had to deal with lack before but this was an extreme that I wasn’t used to facing. There used to be some extra coming from somewhere, but I just couldn’t see how anymore. My eyes were on my own plight and not on the obvious source of supply, my faith. It wasn’t until I began looking up instead of looking around at the circumstances that my attitude got better.

Becky: I love parts of the holiday season, and some parts I can live without. I love the frosty walks and the lights. I love the Christmas singing and the warmth of standing next to my husband in church as we sing together. I love the gathering with family, friends, and food. I don’t love the shopping. I don’t love the traffic. I don’t love the craziness. I love, love, love the hush that follows the activity as I sit by the fire in the solitude that follows the storm.

If you haven't got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

— Bob Hope

The joy when the kids were young.

The joy when the kids were young.

Empty Nest

We are empty-nesters, which means all the chicks have flown the coop. They all have homes and families of their own now, with their own worries and financial dilemmas. This means for me that the decorating and the cleaning up is all my chore and I have no more helping hands. Isn’t it funny how we finally train the children to where they are a joy to be around and a huge help to have around when it is time for them to leave? It means a job well done.

Jennifer: I love the Christmas season!! I wish we focused more on celebrating the season with family and friends rather than rushing around to buy gifts. I love to decorate and cook for everyone.

A Kid's Illusions

When I was a youth in my parent’s home, the magic of Christmas, the decorating, the cooking, the lights, all held my imagination and wonder. Now it is just a chore.

Desta: I love Christmas! It’s a time of year when everybody can be too busy for anything but I often take the opportunity to get together one on one with people who I don’t see any other time of the year. It’s a very special time of year, not to mention anticipating a fantastic birthday celebration for the One reason for the season.

Make a point of making solo dates with friends you don’t get to see often. It’ll warm your heart. Peppermint mochas don’t hurt, either!

So much red and green

So much red and green

Overworked

I think the key here is only to do what you can and let the rest go. We have our limitations as we get older and it’s okay not to do everything. It’s okay if there isn’t a gingerbread house this year as long as we have an apple pie and dressing. I’m still learning to let it go.

Tracy: Christmas is my favorite time of year but it is getting harder and harder each year. Physical limitations make it hard to do those Christmas things I enjoyed like baking and decorating. Most of my family doesn’t seem to care about the “magic of Christmas” that comes from the details, which can get me really down. I have to always remind myself that Jesus is the focus and giving is what it is about. Giving what I can… not perfection.

Need help decorating?

Need help decorating?

Under-appreciated

Perhaps part of my depression was because I felt under-appreciated. The work seemed to be taken for granted and when I decided not to do it my husband kicked into helper mode and did it for me that year. I thought I would enjoy seeing someone else pick up the slack but I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I felt guilty and even more underappreciated. It was time to pull myself out of the doldrums. I have felt much better about myself and the season when I just learned to embrace it even if we weren’t getting any gifts.

Lysa: Not having extra money to decorate, make a meal, or get gifts makes me feel worthless.

is-christmas-a-big-disappointment

Final Thoughts

What Lysa is feeling is what I was feeling. I was looking at my lack and not at my abundance. Compared to most of the rest of the world, I am rich. I have a place to live with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. We own a car. We have food in the cabinets and dishes to eat off of. We are truly rich people, and God provides all our needs. I am giving my family the gift of no gifts and the treat of my presence instead of presents.

Comments

Liz Westwood from UK on December 23, 2019:

That's so true. I wish we could put Christ back into Christmas. We have been in Spain for the Festival of the Three Kings. It's a real experience.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 23, 2019:

William Kovacic,

You got it in one word, focus. When we change our focus we change everything. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 23, 2019:

Lora Hollings,

I couldn't have said it better myself. You have a way with words. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 23, 2019:

Liz Westwood,

You know, when I was in Spain, I was amazed at how they celebrate the Christmas holiday. Almost no one decorated as Christmas approached and other than a good meal the only thing the locals did on Christmas day was to all go to church. I was just 20 but I thought they had the right idea. Then 14 days later all the trappings came out: Santa, trees, decorations, etc. They did the big gift exchange after Christmas on 3 Kings Day. Isn't that intriguing. I never forgot what a difference it made. If only we could do that here and change the meaning of Christmas day to focus on the birth of Christ instead of presents.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 23, 2019:

Donna Rayne,

Thanks for identifying with my feelings. I suppose many are feeling the same things. It is a bittersweet memory to think about all the excited footfalls running around the house on Christmas morning trying to stay quiet because it is so early and failing. I really miss that.

Blessings,

Denise

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on December 22, 2019:

Not always easy, Denise, but focusing on the positive changes everything/ thanks for the lessons you share here.

Lora Hollings on December 22, 2019:

An article that really makes us think about what is important as we approach Christmas. It isn't about material gifts, decorating, or making a big fancy meal! Truly it is about celebrating the most miraculous gift of all and just being around people that we love and care about. Just singing a few Christmas carols, going for a nature walk and appreciating all the beauty around us that we've been given! The spiritual gifts of love, appreciating and being aware of the moment are indeed the best gifts of all. Christmas shouldn't be about putting demands on people but showing them gratitude for just being who they are. Thank you for this wonderful article, Denise. Merry Christmas and wishing you a New Year full of blessings, my friend.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 22, 2019:

This is a thought-provoking article. Thanks for sharing your experiences to encourage us all to ponder what Christmas means for us. Sometimes I wish we could do away with some of the trappings and get back to the simple Christian message.

Donna Rayne from Greenwood, In on December 21, 2019:

Beautifully written and my thoughts as well. An empty nest is so hard to get used to and I too have one now for the first time all my chicks have flown this way or that... I find joy in the Lord and I know He is with them and me. God bless you all-

Donna

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Dora Weithers,

What a lovely prayer. I agree. Lord, make me mindful and caring to help wherever I can as well. It always cheers my heart to do for others and stop thinking about myself. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Lori Colbo,

What a smart lady you are. I love the Charlie Brown reference. So true: He is the reason for the season. If only we could keep our focus on Him instead of ourselves. Thanks for sharing your experiences with me.

Blessings and Merry Christmas,

Denise

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 20, 2019:

Denise, thanks for making us aware of these disappointments which can make Christmas a sad time instead of a glad time. My heart goes out to individuals and families in these situations. Hopefully, God would put some others in their paths to offer some practical help and cheer. Lord, please help me be mindful to see and help wherever I can.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Linda Lum,

Excellent point about the reason for the season. When my husband was a pastor on staff at a mega church, there was so much to do with the church dramas and productions that I often couldn't relax until it was all over. Now that retirement is in full swing, I don't miss those hectic times but some of the splendor. I do get to enjoy the season and food more than ever before. Thanks for the reminder.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Bill Holland,

You sound like you have the right idea. That's what I need to settle into also and stop feeling sorry for myself. I actually have a lovely life and I need to rejoice in that, on Christmas and every other day. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on December 20, 2019:

Charlie Brown felt the same Christmas woes. He was disgusted with the commercialism and shallowness of the season. From the depths of his soul he cried out "Isn't there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?" Linus gave him the answer in a most dramatic way. He recited the true meaning of Christmas from Luke 2. If you watch it, you will see in the middle of it he drops his security blanket.

I get depressed during the season as well. I enjoy the intimate little advent parties from my church and getting together on Christmas Eve or Day with dear people, but when I am alone in my humble trailer I feel melancholy. This year I have listened to sacred Christmas music whenever I'm home and meditated on them and the biblical passages of Christmas and it gave me great consolation. I just keep my eyes on Jesus and as the cliche says, Jesus is the reason for the season. It has brought me quiet comfort.

Blessings to you.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Eric Dierker,

It sounds like you have a lot to say about your family Christmas. I sense another hub coming. Thanks for commenting and sharing your family experiences.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 20, 2019:

The disappointment of Christmas comes from focussing on things of this earth. When we think about the "reason for the season" and not ourselves then there's room for happiness. Thank you for a wonderful, timely article to help us refocus on what's really important. Blessings to you.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Devika Primić,

It is a time to forgive and rejoice, isn't it? Thank you for that thought. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 20, 2019:

Lorna Lamon,

It is time to reflect but on the positive and not the negative. I tend to remember we have no money and no gifts and some of my children won't be here. I need to keep my mind on what wonderful things I have and rejoice in that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 20, 2019:

I no longer have expectations for Christmas. It is what it is, another day with better-than-average food. I appear at the family function for two hours and then come home for a movie...and that's it. That's all the gaiety I can handle for one day, and it works for me.

Blessings always

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 20, 2019:

Yahoo for Christmas. Nowadays it is my wife and children who make it happen. Gabe did most the tree this year as I sat there and told him how bad he was at it LoL. Hanging ornaments is the best.

I insist that my elder children spend it with their mom. This ensures that we get at least two Christmases. And then my wife's church celebrates on a different date.

My youngest at near ten told me last night that Santa is fat and cannot fit down our chimney. Of course we were laughing as we agree Santa is the spirit of giving love. Not to worry, he already wrote out his mail to the North Pole.

I started celebrating Christmas yesterday. For me it is the birth of Christ. How great is that. Maybe by some miracle I am traveling to the manger already.

Ooops I went way to long. Thank you for this wonderful discussion sharing.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 20, 2019:

Hi Denise Christmas is a time for joyful times and Christmas is a special time for many in a religious form. I do not see Christmas as a disappointment, nor as a stressful or exhausting time as I read in these comments. Some people expect too much from this time of year while others do what they can an do not expect much from Christmas time. I think people use this time to indulge and to forgive each other for any bad they have done in the year. Interesting and well thought of hub. Happy Holidays!

Lorna Lamon on December 20, 2019:

I think Christmas can be exhausting and sometimes overwhelming however, it is also a time to reflect and in doing so appreciate all that makes Christmas special. An excellent article Denise and one I can relate to.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 19, 2019:

Virginia Allain,

Very true, my friend. Change your mindset and you change everything! Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on December 19, 2019:

Some good rethinking here. Sometimes it is just our mindset that makes a difference between a good or bad time.