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December 4, 2000 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need

Blue Christmas
When A Loved One's Less Than Merry

I, for one, love the holidays. I, my inner Martha, and/or my inner tundra wolf. (OK, so that's I, for three.) Love the smells, the snow, the sports, the spiked pancake batter. I want to bake things involving cheesecloth. I want to make my own snow globes. I want to make pinecone tassels, using an awl. I want to use sprigs of dwarf Alberta spruce for something, anything.

So BG herself does not necessarily relate to exhortations such as "de-stress the holidays!" and "simplify your Christmas!" My holidays (if not my projects) are actually not so complicated, thanks. I do a little shopping, a little cooking, a little awling, a bunch of parties, and maybe, if I get real jiggy, a "Messiah" sing. But I don't have offspring who will hold their breath and turn blue until I find them a PlayStation 9. I don't have in-laws and out-of-towners and steps-this and halves-that to negotiate. We don't even have a Studio Apartment of Justice Secret Santa (Small place. No secrets.). This season's easy. (February, that's another story.)

And yet. I still wonder, as I gaze into my foamy Godiva cocoa...When do I get to send out the "us" photo postcards? When do I light the menorah "we" registered for? When does my inner spinster stop looking/feeling/stooping like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree? Yeah. Sometimes I, too, am Cindy Boo-Hoo.

So if even I, who am generally super-jaunty, divide my holiday time between "comforter" and "down," imagine what it's like for someone (like Tim) who has reason -- like, a clinical one -- for humbug. And/or, what it's like to live with/love someone who does. Someone who isn't dreaming of -- but who is, rather, living -- a blue Christmas.

Why can the holidays bring such a chill (seasonal, if not clinical)? Well, it doesn't take a rocket dentist to guess. The stress of planning and organizing...everything; the burden of making it perfect and magical. The stress of realizing you've got nothing to plan and organize, no one perfect and magical to plan and organize with. Thoughts such as, "Well, if that cute little Hermey can't make me happy, no one can." 3:30 PM twilight. No money for goodies. Memories of bad holidays. Memories of good holidays gone by. The fa-la-la fifteen.

What to do, for yourself or a sad partner? Much as BG her overextended self learns in "Valentine Saint:"Only what you truly can.

I'm the hooray-for-Holidays superhero, but even I have to remember that the only way to keep it that way is to blow stuff off, say no, spend less, do less. All of which makes it easier to suck it -- whatever "it" is -- up when you have to, when it'll only be a bigger problem if you ski/skip/skimp instead. If you're part of a couple -- or a family -- talk together about the stuff that matters and works, and toss out the rest with the wrapping paper too tattered to re-reuse (...maybe that's just me). If your partner is one sad little elf, do your best to bring cheer (without being annoying), but try to remember: it's not you, it's...Yule.

More resources:

Hard Holiday Bulletin Board

Bipolar Significant Others (strongly recommended by our pal "Stuck," next page)


"I can't separate her from her illness -- how can I separate myself from her?"


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