Brutal holidays ahead for some

By Juan Calvillo

Art by Zasha Hayes

While a portion of society is wrapping presents, preparing turkeys and singing christmas carols in November, there are people who know that the holidays suck. Overspending money, fighting with family and friends and, of course, feeling the holiday blues are just a few of the reasons it might be that holiday gatherings are being limited in scope due to COVID-19.

Holidays are usually seen as a time of togetherness and a time to create happy memories. Yet, for the most part, the holidays are generally a time of spending more than a person’s budget allows. The happiest time of the year is mixed with the time of the year most businesses climb out of the “red” and eventually break even and make profits.

Black Friday sales and Christmas sales bring in big cash for department stores and online retailers. This year may be different with COVID-19 having made a small mess of the economy over the last eight or nine months, but the idea of holiday shopping will remain the same.

Business Professor Frank Aguirre said that spending money is not the only way to show appreciation for family and friends. He teaches a personal finance class at East Los Angeles College and he said that holiday shopping is an emotional time, but that it should be tempered with some common-sense spending.

“Spending money on any special occasion such as the holidays or for a vacation should be based on a personal budget. Spending more than you can afford or increasing your debt will make for a tough start to the new year,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said that it’s not just the financial missteps that can be trying, the stress that comes with financial burdens is high and can be just one of the many causes of what is called seasonal affective disorder.

Kaiser Permanente’s website said that SAD is a form of depression that results from a variety of factors. The seasonal changes in sunlight and the more acute feelings of consciousness from problems, disappointments or unmet goals all contribute to SAD.

SAD can be tough to manage, especially when so many people are feeling happy and delighted to be celebrating the holidays. This feeling of depression makes being in the holiday spirit harder on people experiencing SAD. This seasonal type of depression is almost like a snowball some might play with during the holidays, well not so much in ELAC’s neck of the woods, but bare with the comparison.

The feeling of depression due to problems, financial or otherwise, and disappointments can build little by little. Like adding another layer to a snowball, but eventually the amount is too much and ends up crashing down. This is just another reason the holidays, with  unrealistic happy tidings and familial gathers can be down right horrid.

The final point is more from personal experience than actual research. Families tend to let things fester. Issues with parents, siblings and friends are sometimes not dealt with as they arise. This resentment or anger tends to build up and is usually unleashed in times of stress. Christmas and Thanksgiving tend to be times when people are a little bit easier to irritate and anger because of all the other stress that has built up of the year.

Family arguments can be harsh and hurtful. Financially, the holidays can set up individuals for economic hardships for the coming new year. Feelings of depression from a variety of sources can make festive days down right unbearable. 

There are ways to cope with the bad situations that can arise during the holidays. Financially, Aguirre said that it might be in the best interest to keep to the adage of “it’s the thought that counts.” When it comes to stress it might be good to make sure you take the time to plan your days out to limit stress. If certain family members tend to fight, it might be best not to spend so much time with them, and instead spend time with the family that is a positive force. Can the holidays be great times? Of course. Can the holidays be brutal for some people? Definitely.

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