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Holidays and Transition

Holidays and Transition

For a lot of people, this is anything but the most wonderful time of year. Those of us in periods of transition—even positive ones—are especially susceptible to the feelings of loneliness, frustration, depression and the stress the holidays can elicit. From our friends at The Frisky, a few of life's biggest slaps in the face, and tips for surviving the holidays if you're faced with one or more of them:

You’re recently unemployed.
The national unemployment rate in the U.S. is the highest it’s been in over 14 years, which means you’re far from alone. Take comfort this season in favorite holiday traditions that don’t cost much. When it comes to holiday gifts, agree on a spending cap with your friends and family and consider making gifts this year (Do you knit? Make a few scarves! Mixed CDs, baked goods, a thoughtful photo album, or even a heartfelt letter are other great options).

It’s your first holiday season with a new partner.
Whether you’re stressed about meeting his family for the first time or concerned about an appropriate gift, it’s important to remember that this is a great time of year to have someone special to share it with. To avoid awkwardness when meeting a significant other’s family for the first time this holiday season, ask about appropriate attire (you don’t want to show up in a party dress if everyone in his family is in jeans and NASCAR sweatshirts). Also inquire about anything unique you should be prepared for (like a cousin with a Tourette’s Syndrome who’s likely to twitch through the meal), and whether there are any topics you should avoid with certain family members. For bonus points, bring a dish and a small gift for the hostess.

You’re pregnant.
While it’s a wonderful, exciting time for you, your pregnancy may add more stress to an already overwhelming time of year—and you can’t even drink the eggnog to take the edge off! So be sure to give yourself some extra pampering this season: schedule a prenatal massage, treat yourself to a holiday manicure, and hit the salon for a kick-ass hairstyle to highlight how glowing and gorgeous you are.

You’ve recently lost a loved one.
There’s nothing like the holidays to make us miss the ones we’ve lost more than ever. If this is your first holiday season since losing a loved one, it’s especially important to do something to honor the person (or pet...they're loved too) who’s passed away. Bake his favorite cookie, make a donation to a charity in her name, and share favorite memories with others who were close. A great way to help deal with your grief is to do something for someone else in need, so consider volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen or delivering meals to the elderly. 

Finally, keep in mind that there are no rules or laws regarding the holidays. Social obligations aside, you decide what and how much you want to do this holiday season. Your loved ones are still going to be there for you even if you don’t have it in you to make their party this time. After all, it’s not as if the holidays are like the Olympics and only come around every four years (but wouldn’t that make things easier?).

Posted: 11/26/08

I think giving back or volunteering is the best way to still have a happy holiday season if you're going through difficult changes, such as losing a loved one or being alone for the first time. It gets your mind of off your situation and puts the focus on giving to others, which is what the spirit of the season is all about!