I spent most of the day yesterday feeling blue.
No, not from the frosty wind chilling my face.
Blue as in full out, deep down, all the way to the soles of my feet holiday depression.
This happens every year.
What I can't seem to work out is why.
I started thinking, sifting through the memories, trying to figure out when the shift occurred.
As a kid, I loved Christmas. Even after I knew the truth about Santa, I still loved the holidays. To me, they were always filled with magic and a quiet happy peace.
My mom loved the Christmas holiday and always did her best to make it a nice time. Dad was always a cranky pants about any holiday, but crankiness aside, he would let the holiday be what it was.
He was never depressed about it, more like uptight over money and not much of a "ho ho ho" kind of guy.
So I can't say it started as a kid.
In fact, I was all about the holidays all through childhood, into my teen years and through college.
I think, based on my not very scientific analysis of a jumbled brain full of memories, that the holiday blues came on in my twenties.
When I was out of school, living alone in a really wonderful apartment in Albuquerque with a knockout view of the Sandias.
I had a good job with a good check and really, a pretty good life. But I was alone, and the season, for some reason, made me really blue.
I recall, that year, drinking a bottle of not very good wine and laying *under* my Christmas tree. A night spent looking at the lights and trying to muster up some joy.
Sad. It was a great drunk, but it was an alone drunk. And I was depressed again and hungover in the morning. Ugh!
So, ok. One might understand how a lonely twenty something making her way in the world might feel a little down at the holidays.
But that doesn't explain yesterday.
I then thought about all the bad holidays over the years. The Christmas seasons that weren't so happy.
Like the December my dad's lung disease took a turn for the worst, and Mom and I spent Christmas day in the hospital, having to make some really difficult choices.
But The Lazarus Dad recovered that year. Really, it was something of a Christmas miracle.
So, while yes, December often makes me think of that difficult time, I don't think that is the root of the blues I'm feeling today.
All is well in my little world. I have a wonderful husband who is the best holiday gift I could ever ask for. I have great friends and family. A place to lay my head at night and food to eat. And a rasty feline who makes me laugh.
So what's the boggle, then?
Maybe now, at age forty, I feel a little blue because December isn't just the holiday season, but it ushers in the end of another year.
Another year ending where I wonder to myself where all the rest of the days have gone. I wonder what did I do to make the days count?
The end of December has become a time, I suppose, for assessing myself over the year. For grading my performance.
And sadly, every year, I seem to only be able to see where I was lacking. Missed opportunities. Places where if I'd tried a little harder I might have made something really great happen.
Oh, I know, there are a lot of things I did right this year. There are successes that I don't actually see when I let the dark cloud take over.
This post isn't a plea for reminders that I'm ok.
This post is more a letter to myself. A report card.
That reminds me all on my own that I'm ok.
Because I am.
But for some reason, every year about this time I have to take the tiger by the tail and ride the very dark ride for a while.
Here we go: whooooooa!
One thing that always cheers me is pictured below. It's an ornament made by my kindergarten teacher. I couldn't tell you her name, but I remember the day when she placed a personalized ornament into my grubby little hands.
There was my name! In glitter!
I still have it. It's looking a little tattered these days, but it holds a place of honor on the tree.
I look at this silky blue ornament with silver glitter and try to remember that kindergarten Karen who still believed that reindeer would bring Santa to my roof.
That somehow he'd slip down the very narrow chimney on our free standing fireplace (remember these babies from the 1970's?) and leave us lots of toys and goodies.
That the day would start with the smell of mom's homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.
That we could open the gifts in our stockings first, but had to wait a while on presents under the tree.
That Christmas day was full of surprise and wonder and laughter.
If I can remember that kindergarten Karen, I might just be able to pull myself up and out of these blues.