Changing my perspective about the holiday season

Reconnecting with my faith helps me cut through the noise and commercialization of the holiday season

Kevin J. Sabo

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Advance

Somewhere along the way the holiday season lost its magic for me.

When I was a child, I loved Christmas. I loved the family. I loved the food. Most of all, I loved the gifts!

It was upon my entrance to teenage hood that Christmas started losing its allure. The commercials were starting earlier and earlier. The Christmas music was starting earlier. The holiday season just became noisy.

One tradition we had in my family is that we would open our Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, saving one or two from Santa for Christmas morning.

As I got older, I asked my mom if we shouldn’t open our gifts on Christmas morning in the spirit of the season, and she told me that we couldn’t, because my grandmother, who lived with us, was too excited and wanted to continue opening them on Christmas Eve, which we did.

As I grew from teenager to adult, the Christmas season for me was less a celebration and more something to endure. Part of the feeling is in part to the mental illness diagnoses I was eventually diagnosed with. Part of it was the noise of the season.

As a young-adult I would often seek out opportunities to work at Christmastime to take advantage of overtime pay.

Things came to a head in the fall after I left the ambulance service, with my moods drastically falling, and the fall months becoming my worst time of year as far as the depression and suicidal feelings went.

I left the ambulance in 2013, and each holiday season has continued to challenge me, and my coping strategies. Over the last couple of years though, as I’ve progressed through mental illness recovery the holidays have been less dark, and the joyous season has become more of a celebration than just something to endure.

What are the reasons for this perspective shift?

There are a couple:

First, I am getting way better at using my coping strategies, and there are many, varying from frequent time outs when I’m dealing with large crowds, to throwing on my headphones and just relaxing to music frequently when I start getting overwhelmed.

Second, I’m becoming more aware of my triggers, and doing what I can to avoid or prepare for them. I don’t listen to the radio very much towards the end of October or November just because I don’t want to be sick of the holiday songs well in advance of the Christmas season actually arriving.

I do what I can to stay out of shopping malls, and the crowds, in the six to eight weeks before the holidays as well.

Third, I’ve reconnected with my faith.

My wife and I have gone back to attending church regularly over the last few years, and my church family has been a huge support in my recovery. Celebrating the season with my church family gets me back to basics and celebrating the actual reason for the season.

Reconnecting with my faith helps me cut through the noise and commercialization of the holiday season.

The holiday season is still not my best time of year, and the end of November and beginning of December are still hard, though they are no longer as tough as they once were.

Every year, I find myself getting into the holiday season more and more.

I’m hoping that in time, as I continue to grow, and move further through mental illness recovery, that the trend will continue.

Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

County of Paintearth highlights from Jan. 12th

County graders have been out blading ice at intersections where ice buildup has been bad

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
750 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta Sunday

Central zone currently has 1,182 active cases of the virus

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Valley Ski Club Slope Stabilization Project is awarded CFEP Grant

With forecasts predicting continued mild weather, the board made the decision not to proceed with the current season

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Facebook/ The Open Door 24/7 Integrated Response Hub- Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin residents show support for 24/7 Integrated Response Hub

Wetaskiwin residents and City Council members showed support for Hub with positive signs.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

Most Read