Fighting the "Holiday Blues"
December 16, 2010
My mother died on Christmas Eve eight years ago. My partner and I had been in the south of France for a month so that I could work on the language requirement for my master's degree from the University of Edinburgh. After the end of that month, we took the train to Paris to spend Christmas and New Year's. I had not checked my e-mail for a month so I walked down to an internet café to catch up. As I read my e-mails, I was horrified to read a series of e-mails that said my mother was in the hospital, that she was getting worse, and then that she had died. I rushed back to the hotel to call my sister on her mobile to find out the funeral plans for my mom. My sister said the funeral was the next day in Orlando, Florida. I told her it was not possible for me to get from Paris to Orlando in time for the funeral and asked her to delay the funeral for a few days. My sister said a delay was impossible as the plans were too far advanced and calls had been made for the family to attend. I asked my sis to give my regrets to the family and we hung up. Later that same day, my partner and I visited Chartres Cathedral where I lit a candle for my mom and said a Rosary for the repose of her soul. My sister and my family have never forgiven me for not attending my mom's funeral and we have not spoken since.
My partner has no living relatives. For him, Christmas has always been a sad time. However, until my family alienated me during that Christmas season eight years ago, we had my family as a substitute for his, which helped to cheer him. Since that Christmas eight years ago, the Holiday season has become a sad time for the both of us.
The media paints the Holidays as a happy time to be spent with friends and families. We are bombarded with ads that exhort us to gleefully spend money on gifts for "everyone on our list." I think we are driven by all this hype to ask too much of the Holidays. If our experience of this season doesn't match what we see on television, we can feel disconnected from the near manic happiness all about us, and come down with the Holiday Blues. The bleak weather at this time of year adds to the Blues.
For many people with HIV/AIDS this season can be especially bad. We can be separated by our friends and families by distance or their refusal to accept our lifestyle or HIV status. If we haven't come out to our friends or families or told them we have HIV/AIDS, we can be forced to play pronoun games about the important people in our lives or have to be cheerful even if we are working through a recent HIV/AIDS diagnosis. For many, this time of year brings back memories of the friends we have lost due to AIDS. I for one no longer have any gay male friends from my 20s and 30s left alive. The virus itself makes us prone to depression, which gets worse during the holidays. This year, so many people are out of work or worried about losing their jobs that can only add to the burden of the Holiday Blues.
My partner and I have discovered a few ways to battle the Holiday Blues, which we hope can help you.
I would love to hear how you fight the Holidays Blues.
Merry (Happy) Christmas and Happy (Merry) New Year's
Life Is a River
ScotCharles was born in Mineral Wells, Texas. He has been HIV positive since September 1984, and received an AIDS diagnosis in April 2004. He graduated cum laude from Georgia State University in Atlanta, and got his MBA with honors at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He's also a certified public accountant and a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. He's been married to his partner, Jim, for 30 years. ScotCharles' hobbies are gardening and water color painting. He and Jim have a sable tabby cat named Pickles who runs the house. ScotCharles is a retiree and regular poster to TheBody.com's Bulletin Boards.
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