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Mom of the House: Christmas is officially over

This week Brianna shares her story of coping with SAD and of her hopes for the new year
Mom of the House with Brianna Bell

If you’re type-A, your Christmas tree is packed away and your presents have been neatly put in their appropriate places. You probably already have a carefully written list of resolutions, as you greet January like a blank page, fresh and exciting and full of hope.

If you’re type-B, like me, your Christmas tree is still up, looking a lot less festive than it did last week.

In my home, there’s a sad and dead poinsettia on the landing of our stairs, dropping its leaves and being crushed by tiny feet. Opened presents have been shuffled from one room to the other, eventually making their way to dedicated spots at some point in January. 

Cookies grow stale in cupboards; they taste a lot less sweet after the post-Christmas festivities. Christmas décor clutter various corners of the house. I’m not yet ready to put them away, but they are a nuisance to look at. A reminder that the holiday is over and I really should be moving on. 

The month of December is a joyful one for me. Even in the most difficult seasons of my life, like when my college boyfriend broke up with me on Christmas Day, I have still managed to love and enjoy the holiday. In recent years the excitement is contagious, as I celebrate Christmas with my two young children and my husband, and we create exciting and lasting memories that warm my soul. 

But each year after Christmas Day a sadness fills me. I am not ready to let go. I don’t enjoy Boxing Day shopping, and I have never been one to celebrate New Year’s. There’s not much to look forward to, and it feels like I have endless months of snow and cold until I can greet some warm weather and start living again.

It took me a long time to realize that what I experienced each year was common, and even had a name: “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, or SAD. Some years are harder than others. In the past I tried to force myself into Type-A mode, trying to change my entire life throughout the month of January, throwing out all the old habits and embracing a new and fresh chapter of life. 

It’s always ended devastatingly for me. The years that I have embraced change and resolutions are the years when I crash the hardest. Those are the years I look back on and remember dark days, lots of tears, and deep and soul-sucking depression. 

The hardest part about SAD is knowing that it’s coming. It’s bracing for the hit, feeling every muscle in my body tense as I wait for the doom and darkness to envelope me. 

This year I am tempted to make a resolution or two, tempted to try and greet the new year with some hope and expectation. After all, 2017 is an exciting one for our family. In May, we welcome our third daughter. There are so many happy memories and exciting moments to be had. 

Instead, I will be trying something new this year. It’s no fun living in dread, but it also doesn’t work for me to live in hopeful anticipation, attempting to change or will away my true self.

This year, I will take each day as it comes. Instead of thinking about 2017 as a new year, with so much expectation and hope, I will look towards each day.

I’m sure some days will be difficult. Days where I’m snowed in and my kids are cranky, and the day just feels gloomy. On those days I’ll try my best to grab onto happy moments. Listening to my daughters play next to each other. The taste of a nice frothy latte. A passage of a book that warms my heart. The feeling of our new daughter kicking in my belly. I’ll love and cherish and be grateful for these moments, it’s the least I can do, on the hard days.

But I’ll also cling to joyful days. There’s always light even in the darkness. Days where my family visits the Butterfly Conservatory, one of the balms to my soul in the winter. I’ll bottle up that feeling of the warm tropical heat on my skin, the dance of a butterfly on my shoulder, and the sound of the waterfall spilling over the rock. 

I have no idea if 2017 will be any better than 2016, and I really have no idea how difficult the next few months will be. But I do have hope, faith in a higher purpose, and gratitude for the immense blessings in my life.

Here’s to 2017, may it bring delight and joy, even if the moments are fleeting, and may we remember those moments in the difficult days to come.