Are YOU one of them?
Let's face it: The holidays are a time of sadness, anger, grief, and frustration for a lot of people. Not everyone enjoys them or looks forward to them, and many people have a good reason why.
Here are nine types of people who may struggle during the holiday season, so make sure you show how understanding you are.
1. Unhappy people
If you're unhappy, the holidays suck. No other time of year brings with it so much pressure to be happy. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah! So much merriment, happiness, joy, and glad tidings. If you're not feeling it, then constant calls to be happy can become overbearing and annoying. It's a constant reminder that you're not happy.
It's easy to walk around in March without pressure to feel and look happy. "Happy March 16th" just isn't a thing. But in November through January it's time to put on your "I'm OK" mask and act happy while thinking, "Am I the only one out there who's sad for the holidays?" (I'll answer that: No, you're not alone. There are lots of sad people walking around with happy-for-the-holidays masks on.)
Between holiday parties and family gatherings, it's impossible to avoid people during the holiday season without being considered a Scrooge or Grinch. If every host had a Decompress Here Room (DHR) where introverts could sit alone and play Bejeweled Blitz, read, or just enjoy the quiet, the holiday season would be much more tolerable for people who are exhausted by other people.
The holidays are also a time when invasive questions are fair game. Even "How have you been?" can feel like an invasive question for introverts.
3. People who have suffered a loss
Family and relationships are a central theme of the holidays. For people who have suffered the loss of someone close to them, the holidays can be a painful reminder of who isn't there. It doesn't matter if you've lost someone recently, or if you're grieving the death of Aunt Betty in 1983. The holidays have the power to make any loss seem recent.
My grandfather died in 2005 and I still think of how he used to ring sleigh bells over the phone on Christmas Eve, from the time I was a small child until his last Christmas in 2004.
4. People on a budget
If you're interested in keeping out of debt, Christmas can be an annoying time of year. The cost of decorations, gifts, more gifts, wrapping paper, scotch tape, airplane tickets to visit relatives, food to feed visiting relatives, and more gifts, gets really, really expensive, very quickly.
5. People who aren't crafty
For 90 percent of the year, it's possible to suck at crafts and home decor and go undetected. Unless you're a teacher and need to hire your babysitter to help you with your bulletin boards.
When the holidays roll around, it's pretty obvious you're inept when your house is the only one on the block without lights and you're handing people gifts in a plastic grocery bag because you can't figure out how to use wrapping paper.
6. Busy people
When I was a single parent working three jobs, raising four young children, and avoiding drinking water because I didn't have time to go to the bathroom, Christmas shopping, decorating, cooking, and socializing were completely overwhelming.
7. People who didn't grow up celebrating Christmas
There's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to Christmas. If the Santa Myth isn't second nature, it's hard to fake the magic when encountering children who might still believe.
An advantage of celebrating an under-the-radar holiday is that it probably hasn't been commercialized. The downside is that it's a little awkward driving around on Christmas day searching for Chinese food. (I did that once, and was disappointed that the Myth of the Chinese Restaurant Open on Christmas was about as real as Santa. I settled for cereal at home.)
8. People with family problems
Your family problem could be a husband, lack of husband, annoying in-laws, overbearing parents, a competitive sibling, infertility, past abuse ... there are infinite possibilities. The holidays tend to make these problems worse. If your relationship isn't perfect, it can feel like it completely sucks during the holiday season. If you don't have a relationship ... well, there's always that aunt who tries to figure out what's wrong with you.
9. People who had a bad, or even just uneventful, year
The holidays are a time where people reflect on the previous year and are supposed to find things to be thankful for. Sometimes that's hard. I don't send out Christmas letters, but if I did a lot of years would include details like, "I enjoyed a variety of tasty samples at Costco and vacuumed up the raisins and animal cracker crumbs out of my minivans." Those details would've made it into the letter to spare people details of illness, divorce, and death.
There's no right way to feel during the holidays. If you love the holidays and consider them joyous and merry, that's awesome. Just know that you're probably encountering a lot of people who are faking it while thinking, "Is it January 2 yet?" And if you aren't happy during the holidays, you aren't alone. And, you aren't a Grinch.