Holiday Stress Stirs Your Perfect Storm

Many creators find December, the holiday season, particularly stressful. You want your holiday to be perfect. The list of things to do during the holiday season can be overwhelming and exhausting. You are on deadlines at least to get your holiday shopping or meals or decorations done. Most likely you are also on deadlines for your creative business or you’ve got holiday gifts to create. And it’s not done yet. Holiday stress stirs a perfect storm to derail your creativity.

Photograph of holiday stress caused by a storm--in this photo appears a person in winter outerwear walking through a snow storm. In near white-out conditions you can see a once shoveled sidewalk covered in snow and large pine trees lining the long snowy walk.

So Many Holidays

December many, many holidays. Woman’s Day lists more than one hundred. My December Celebrations posts discussed thirty-seven holidays.

Some holidays hold deep meaning. If that’s adding to your stress, step back. Breathe. You don’t have to make light of your holiday.

Being a creative means being flexible. If holiday stress stirs your perfect storm, take a moment. Remember that you are creative, even if you have to put aside your work for a while during this crazy month. Allow yourself to focus on the most important things and let some things go. Most importantly, destress, have a little fun so you don’t burn yourself out. Reset your mindset. Holiday relaxation can feed creativity and make you feel better too. Too stressed-out to know how to have some fun? Maybe one of these suggestions will give you an idea.

Have Fun With Krampus

Krampus is a scary creature from folklore who punishes kids who misbehave at Christmastime. But don’t be a Krampus because you’re stressed. Decrease your stress with a fun Krampus gift. This one is available on Amazon.


image of black t shirt with Krampus image and the words "You might not believe in Krampus but Krampus believes in you!"

Relax on St. Nicholas Day 

This day is a feast day honoring the saint. Take a few minutes to relax and reset. Print out one or two of these online coloring pages and use fat crayons or markers and color. Scribble if you need to get rid of some excess emotions. Don’t worry about keeping color inside or outside the lines. Focus on making it colorful and having fun.

If you are an artist,Trick yourself into a more child-like state of mind. Use your non-dominate hand. Close your eyes and pick a crayon. Use that color on the object least likely to be that color in reality. Have fun.

St Nicholas Center.

Get Coloring Pages.

A Meditative Bohdi Day

Buddhists celebrate this day of awakening or enlightenment. Even if you aren’t a Buddhist, take ten minutes and forget about your list of to-dos. Light a candle and meditate. Or take a stroll among the trees. 

Mitten Tree Day 

Image of a colorful, hand knit mitten ready to be hung on a mitten tree. Giving to others and counting our blessings can reduce holiday stress.

This holiday didn’t make it on the December Celebrations posts. But it reminds us to count our blessings. Buy a pair of colorful mittens or two or three and hang them on a tree for anyone who needs them. If you don’t have mittens to spare, volunteer a few hours to your local soup kitchen or food and clothes pantry.

Feast of Immaculate Conception

This one can be easy. Take the day off—at least refrain from unnecessary work and feast on your favorite foods.

National Cotton Candy Day

Image of a woman at a candy cotton machine, spinning pink cotton candy onto a paper stick. Even imagining taking a bite can reduce holiday stress.

Guess what? Go get some cotton candy and dig in. Get messy. Lick your fingers. Enjoy yourself.

Your Perfect Storm

Don’t let holiday stress create your perfect storm. Don’t let it cause burn out. Take time out to enjoy a little fun, relaxation, exercise. Creativity is a gift. And your time is a gift. Be generous with your gifts, but remember to nurture them as well.

How do you relieve holiday stress?

Image Credits:

Snowy Day Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash

Mitten by dooneling, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cotton Candy by Joseolgon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do You Know Rudolph Like I Know Rudolph?

Welcome to the second installment of holiday fun and an interview with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Do You Know Rudolph Like I Know Rudolph? 

image of the cover of Robert L. May's book available on Amazon--Do You Know Rudolph?

Rudolf’s Birth

In 1939, the Montgomery Ward Company asked their ad man to create a story for a Christmas promotion. The ad man, Robert L. May, wrote catalog copy for the company, but he had a way with limericks and parodies

May’s life situation depressed him. He was heavily in debt trying to pay for his dying wife’s medical care.  And his failure to be the novelist he dreamed of haunted him.

But May believed in his story. He had a friend illustrate his manuscript. Together, he and his friend convinced his boss to publish the story. 

Rudolph’s Q&A

1. Who is your role model?

Santa Claus. He’s always jolly and kind. Unlike certain reindeer. Not that I hold a grudge.

2. Who knows you the best?

Santa Claus. He knows when I am sleeping. And he knows when I’m awake. He knows when I am bad or good. 

3. What would your friends say about you?

They used to laugh and call me names. Now they say I’ll go down in history.

4. What is the question people ask you most often?

It’s alway the same. Where did you get that nose?

5. What is the thing you’d never say to another person?

I would never ridicule a reindeer or a person for their looks.

6. What is your greatest achievement?

Saving Christmas one foggy night.

7. What is your greatest failure?

white space image of reindeer horns with ornaments hanging from it, two black eyes and a red nose. Do you know rudolph?

Hating my nose and not believing in myself. 

8. What did you learn from your greatest failure?

That we all have a purpose in life. Sometimes it’s a big thing, but more often it’s a tiny thing to us but a huge thing for someone else. Sometimes we never know who that someone else is, and that’s okay.

9. What is the thing you are most proud of?

Helping people who look different feel better about themselves through my story.

10. What would you like to change about yourself?

Not one thing. I used to hate my red nose, but it helped Santa more than once now. I learned that sometimes our imperfections are our greatest assets.

The Rest of the Story

Read the original story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a bit different from the versions we see today, but it remains delightful. 

The Montgomery Ward Company sold more than 2 million copies of the story. But apparently the company thought of the story as nothing more than a promotion. They gave the rights back to May.

May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, was a songwriter. May talked him into writing a song about Rudolph. Harry Brannon sang the song first. Then in 1949 Gene Autry picked up the song. And it sold more than 25 million copies and the rest as they say is…history.

Do You Know Rudolph?

Image of an outline of Rudolph and a Christmas tree on a blue background--do  you know rudolph

Learning about Rudolph and interviewing him was fun. I hope you enjoyed it, too. If you missed my interview with Frosty, please take a minute to read it. 

Do You Know Rudolph? If you didn’t before, you know him better now. Happy Holidays!

First Lines for the Holidays

Welcome to First Lines for the Holidays. December has more than just the Christmas holiday. See my posts on December Celebrations for some of the celebrations held this month.  

For this First Lines Friday, here are a selection of first lines from science fiction and fantasy books that include or are about the holidays. I hope you find at least one you will enjoy.

Have you heard of the great Forest of Burzee?

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

There was a Christmas tree in the lobby when Lauren got to work, and the receptionist was sitting with her chin in her hand, watching the security monitor.

A Lot Like Christmas: Stories by Connie Willis

The Reverend Lizzie Blackmore slowly blinked awake, and found, to her surprise, that she was already furious.

The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell

Once there was a boy who lived in a cabin in the deep woods with no one for company but an old woman and an old man.

Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire

Santa Claus…

How vile your name upon my tongue. Like acid, hard to utter without spitting.

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

So you’re looking at me, Mr. Big-Shot Journalist, as if you’re surprised to see a little gray-haired, gray-bearded man.

“On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi” from Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy & Science Fiction by Jack Dann (Editor), William Tenn (Contribution by), Carol Carr (Contribution by), Robert Silverberg (Contribution by), Horace Gold (Contribution by)

Nan Killian was surrounded by mayhem. Deafening pandemonium.

A Scandal in Battersea, by Mercedes Lackey

Christmas crept into Pine Cover like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.

The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore

Happy Holidays!

I hope you enjoyed today’s First Lines for the Holidays. Whatever holiday you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) during December, I wish you good health, abundant happiness, and a year of excellent reading.  

Depressed for the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of joy or a time of sorrow and depression. Believe me, I know. I’ve struggled through more than one holiday. But for me, Christmas is the holiday that can bring me the most joy or the most depression. And no matter how prepared I think I am, or how many strategies I use, being depressed for the holidays sucks. The common response is to count your blessings, but how do you do that when everything seems like it adds to your burdens?

Image of snowy tree on a gray day. Depressed for the holidays?

Acknowledge Your Feelings

For me, for a very long time, I was in denial because when you say you’re sad or you’re overwhelmed; we consider it whining or complaining. People say, ‘Count your blessings,’ and it’s like, ‘Yeah, I am, but I’m still sad…’

Karen Civil

It’s okay to be sad or overwhelmed or depressed at the holidays. If it’s your first holiday without a loved one, it’s particularly difficult.  

No matter the why of your depression or sadness or overwhelm, say it aloud. I’m sad. Say it when you’re alone at first. Other people often get uncomfortable when you tell them you’re sad. So until YOU are comfortable saying it aloud, say it in private. When you’re ready, say it to people you know and trust. It gets easier. And it helps to say it, to acknowledge it.

Do Something

All the well-meaning advice in the world can’t make it better. Only YOU can make it better. It’s not easy. It will not make this week’s holiday times joyful for you. But give yourself time and it will get better. Piece-by-piece you can pick yourself up. Each piece will get a little lighter. 

You may never feel the same holiday joy you once had again, but you CAN find a way back to joy. 

Years ago, I struggled to find a way through the holidays despite my grief over a bad family situation.  I could not face making Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, I told my ten-year-old-son we’d go out to eat on Thanksgiving. He could choose the place. (I assumed he’d want to go to a Thanksgiving buffet.) He wanted spaghetti. 

And you know what? We went to an Italian place and had spaghetti. It was okay. We had a nice dinner, and I didn’t feel like a terrible mom. And while I didn’t feel that special Thanksgiving feeling, it helped to be in a festive place doing something different. 

Count Your Blessings

Many people are uncomfortable with your feelings. They don’t want you to be depressed for the holidays as if that somehow ruins their holiday. Let them be uncomfortable. But also remember to count your blessings. 

There’s a woman I know who has cancer. They told her she’d be dead in months. You know what she does? Every morning she wakes up and puts a “take that, mortality” post on Twitter. 

You can adapt that. “Take that, depression. I’m still here. I’m still fighting.” What a blessing to do that. No, it doesn’t feel like a blessing to you right now, but it is. Say it until you can believe it. Say it until it brings you that fierce survivor joy to you.

Talk to Someone

Talk to a trusted friend (I’m fortunate enough to have several very good friends who listen well.) 

Call the suicide prevention lifeline. Don’t feel suicidal? It’s okay. Call them anyway. They will listen. If you want help, they can help you find it. 

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TTY: 1-800-799-4889

24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call is routed to the nearest crisis center in the national network of more than 150 crisis centers.

If that’s not for you, find a clergyman or a doctor or a therapist to talk to. Heck, talk to your dog or cat—talk to whoever or whatever you can be honest with. Tell them, I hate this situation or this person for putting me into this situation. You can say I feel bad, I’m mad, I’m sad, I’m depressed. 


Pretend that your situation is temporary. Temporary isn’t just a twenty-four-hour period. Temporary may be longer than you want it to be. But it’s not forever. It’s not permanent. Pretend that you can get through the next 24 hours. That’s all you need to worry about right now. 

If that’s too much, bring it down to one hour. All you have to do is to survive the next hour. And then the next. At the end of that 24 hours, you’ve done something incredible. You’ve survived something you thought would kill you. You’ve bravely faced down and survived each of 24 hours. Good job. Keep up the good work. And it is work. But one day, you’ll discover you aren’t pretending anymore. 

Take a Deep Breath

Friends, I’m okay. I am depressed and sad and overwhelmed. But please don’t respond with sympathy or support for me. I know I have your support. 

I’m posting this for anyone else who is struggling with guilt and anger and sadness. Anyone who isn’t into the spirit this season. Those who have got things going on that are using up their energy, eating away at their joy, and feel like mountains they cannot climb right now. That pain, sorrow, or depression stretches on for months and months and feels as if it will never end. If that describes you, please stop a moment. Take a deep breath. I get it. I really do. 

The hardest thing in the world to do when you’re depressed, sad, or overwhelmed is to see any blessings to your situation. It sucks to be depressed for the holidays. I know. I’m right there with you. But I have been here before. I also know that I do have blessings. And I know you do too. Count your blessings. Even if you don’t feel them. Even if you can only think of one thing. Reach out for help. That’s a blessing. And one day you will know that you have blessings to count each and every day.

The Most Special Month

Welcome to December, the last month of the calendar year. As I thought about the posts for this month, my thoughts turned to December as the end of the year. But it’s not just an end. According to some, this is the most special month of the year.

The Most Special Month of Holidays

Image of a hand holding a Christmas tree of silver snowflakes and stars celebrating the Most Special Month

It’s a month of many holidays. See my posts from last year that gave you a little information about each holiday. 

I’ve established that Christmas is my favorite holiday in these posts. 

The Most Special Month of Birthdays

Image with pinned cards for each letter of the phrase Happy Birthday

December is THE birthday month. Why? 

For Christians (those who keep the spirit of Christianity), it’s the month we celebrate Christ’s birthday. That makes it an important birthday. 

The second reason it’s THE birthday month? It’s my son’s birthday. His birth was the very best give I ever got.

December also includes one of my best friends’ birthday. And it includes a beloved aunt’s birthday (though she passed away many years ago) . Plus, many of my internet friends have birthdays in December.

Finally, December is my birthday month. Yay!

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. Madeleine L’Engle

It’s the End of the Year

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

Winston Churchill

It’s a time of year when we look back to see what we’ve accomplished and celebrated and lost. There are always some losses during a year. It’s the nature of things. 

There are always deaths and medical or emotional challenges during the year. These losses can cut to the quick.

There are always losses in things we didn’t do or accomplish or finish. Do you take those losses as signs of failures? I used to. But what if they aren’t failures? 

What if they were changes or new information? They may have been paths you tried and discovered didn’t work for you. Or they were an overly ambitious goal under the circumstances. Or they were something you thought you wanted and learned you really didn’t. Those aren’t failures. Those are steps on the path of life, on the path of learning.

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

Oprah Winfrey

This year, try to see the losses as part of the balance of things, the circle of life (if you’ll excuse my use of that phrase). 

A Note for those who Find December Depressing

Don’t take this post as an admonishment if you suffer from depression. Depression is real. It can be more than “mental,” it can be a physical ailment. People who live with depression battle some of the most difficult demons in life and are some of the strongest people I know. 

I hope reading my post, Alone for the Holidays, will help. If depression is making your daily activities difficult, reach out for help. Visit the national mental health help site. If you don’t have a therapist or counselor, call SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-726-4727. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 or Live Online Chat.

The Most Special Month

Make your December the most special month. Celebrate your learning, your growth, your achievements, your “losses,” and YOUR favorite holiday. Won’t you help me celebrate by sharing your end of year or holiday reflections?