We prepare several months for the holiday season. We make gift lists, and decorate our homes. We shop (and shop and shop), and wrap (and wrap and wrap). We bake and cook and clean. We stand in line to see Santa, and do other magical things. We listen to Christmas or Hanukkah music 24/7. We open our homes to loved ones, and curl up on the couch watching sweet movies.
And then in just a few days (or eight), it’s all over.
And that’s when sadness and sorrow can set in. It can feel as if the joy has been sucked out of the room and out of our lives. And we feel like we should get serious for the new year, buckle down, stop eating the cookies and cakes, and get back to our workaholic ways.
We feel like we need to emerge from the slumber or cocoon we’ve been inhabiting for most of December, and go, go, go.
If you feel disappointed and sad and deflated because the holidays are over, know you’re not alone, and know it’s perfectly OK. Grieve the (almost) end of the holiday season. Journal about it. Talk about it. Feel it. And try the below tips, too.
- Schedule fun, meaningful activities for January, February and March. Yes, put them on your calendar right now. This could be anything from taking an online photography class to having weekly lunch dates with your best friend to taking a solo weekend trip. It could be scheduling yoga sessions or getting up every morning and working on your novel. Think about what fulfills you, what supports you and what brings you joy—and write these activities and outings inside your shiny, new planner in pen.
- Pinpoint what you specifically love (and now miss) about the holiday season—and see how you can incorporate that into your day to day. If you love Christmas music, play it while you’re preparing dinner every night. If you love holiday decorations, keep them up until February, or take them down, and create cozy winter-inspired spaces throughout your home with white candles, and white lights, and soft blankets and a special station in the kitchen for hot chocolate. If you love the togetherness, make every Friday into a movie night with your family. Maybe you can’t replicate each and every thing you love about the season, but you can find several special ways to keep the spirit alive for the next few months or all year long.
- Create new traditions that only happen in January and February. You can interpret this in any way you like. For example, maybe this means going skating every Saturday, or making a new soup, casserole or apple pie recipe every weekend (or some other winter favorite). Maybe this means volunteering for a specific event or specific organization. Maybe this means reading books that take place in the wintertime with your book club. Maybe it means taking turns hosting a monthly dinner with friends. Maybe it means taking a trip to see your best friend. Maybe it means going to mass or Shabbat services. What winter-inspired traditions would you like to create with your friends and family? And with yourself?
- Give different kinds of gifts. Let the holiday spirit live on by doing something kind for a loved one, an acquaintance or a stranger, big or small. Send a sweet text. Drop off a home-cooked meal or bouquet of flowers. Send a supportive letter to let a loved one know they’re not alone, and you’re here whenever they’re ready to talk. If Christmas got too hectic and you didn’t get to send any cards, send letters in January telling loved ones how much you love them.
The winter months can feel dreary, especially with the holidays seemingly long gone. But there’s no reason why you can’t keep making gingerbread houses, listening to holiday music, helping loved ones (or strangers), and doing any other things that are meaningful, fulfilling and joyful to you.
Again, zero in on the specific reasons why you love the holiday season and why you miss it. And it’s very likely you can reconnect to that special, beautiful spirit. And do so over and over again.