Frenzied Christmas? Not for Ellen


Christmas is the least miserable day of the year.

That’s the conclusion of a blogger who compiled data on searches for the words: depression, anxiety, pain, stress, fatigue. His study showed that fewer people searched for those words on Christmas Day than any other day. True, many people feel jolly and happy on Christmas Day, but no doubt lots of other people are too frenzied, or too blue, or too frenzied and too blue, to computer search for solutions on Christmas Day.

It seems to me that a combination of physiological and social reasons create the winter blues. For one thing, there’s less light this time of year. Days are short and animals are holing up, hunkering down for a long winter’s nap. Trees, bushes and plants drop their leaves and withdraw into dormancy.

We, on the other hand, don’t stop working at dusk. We just keep going like the Energizer bunny. In fact, we increase our social activity this time of year when the natural response is to be more muted.

Summer is the time for outward expression. In winter the natural cycle is inward reflection, but our culture runs counter to that cycle. We created a different response to winter. Instead of slowing down, meditating, contemplating and inwardly reflecting, we devised a mania of external activity, trying to recreate the expansive cycle of summer.

Marketers helped by inventing a day for us to stampede our way into large stores, heaving with people, metal baskets crashing, “Jingle Bells” jangling, fingers grabbing and stabbing. Frenetic, frenzied, freaked out consumers vie to get the best bargains for gifts on Christmas Day. They call it Black Friday.

We plan a Christmas gathering of family and friends. We get up before dawn and frantically cook and bake. We set the table with juniper boughs cut from trees sleeping out back. We hope Uncle Albert won’t tell his sexist jokes. The wine flows and the kids giggle and the gabbing gets louder and by the time everyone leaves, we’re exhausted. Sometime in between we remember it’s the birth of Jesus that we’re celebrating, and we bring Him out from behind the manger on the windowsill where the three wise guys are waiting for their Epiphany Jan. 6.

Well, I have to tell you – even though I can imagine all that – that’s not how my Christmas Day goes. Yep, kids, grandkids, one great-grandkid and a dear friend are coming to my house next Monday, 17 of them this year. However, they do all the cooking, baking, finding enough chairs and picking up the wrappings and ribbons after secret Santa time. That wonderful tradition means we each buy only one gift, and it’s a hoot! Nobody really cares about the gift he or she gets. It’s fun seeing who’s gets the most coveted one.

This year, as usual on Christmas morn, I’ll sleep late, meditate and spend a little time by myself inwardly reflecting and counting my blessings. And, oh, do I have blessings! I gently encourage you to do the same. Merry Christmas!

Ellen Wood of Questa is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of “Think and Grow Young: Powerful Steps to Create a Life of Joy.” Her new book is “Joy! Joy! Joy! 7 Mind Body Spirit Self-Help Practices to Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Reverse Memory Loss and Live Happy.” Ellen’s newest website is Contact her at