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We Don’t Have to Relive the Sad and Bad Memories of Christmas Past

When I think back to my childhood, I don’t remember much about the ten Christmases I spent in the Beardsley household except that I often found myself extremely depressed. While some of the other children in the house seemed to be excited about the holiday atmosphere, I found it difficult to develop any enthusiasm for it.  The constant background stress of the threat of domestic violence and child abuse was always present.

Beardsley children hanging Christmas stockings

Beardsley children hanging Christmas stockings

There is one photo of all the children in my famous family looking up at a wall covered with Christmas stockings in the living room of the Beardsley home.  The mood set by the picture is one of family fun anticipation of the holiday and Christmas spirit. Though I’m guessing there were probably some members of the family who may have been genuinely excited about the holiday season, I do remember thinking it odd that they were willing to pretend that all was well when it certainly didn’t seem that way to me. I don’t remember much except disappointment and a desire to escape and go somewhere else.

It is so easy to get caught up in the superficiality of holiday celebrations. The preparations, the cost, the media bombardment, both overt and subliminal, to consume, consume, consume! All of this can be stressful, drawing us into the trap of reactive and destructive behavior. In fact, reacting to the demands placed on us can even trigger old abuse tapes in the brain and before we know it, we could be snapping at our loved ones, or worse.

In addition, it is understood among sociologists and psychologists who study such things that there are health and mood issues that arise out of the seasonal shortening of the days in northern climates. As daylight shortens due to the earth changing its rotation relative to the sun, the time spent in darkness lengthens. This can create mood swings and a darkening of attitudes that can result in shorter tempers and behaviors that might not occur at other times in the year. Many people suffer from this disorder, called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

Combine SAD with the stresses already mentioned and the holidays can be a time which leads to domestic violence and abusive behavior. It is important to remember to stay centered in our awareness of what the holiday season means, not just in a historical context, but in the present moment.

I believe we have the opportunity every day to create new memories for the future. We don’t have to relive the sad and bad memories of Christmas Past. We can create new Christmas memories in the present for the future. What new memories will you create?

If you find yourself feeling less than enthusiastic or sad and depressed about the holidays,  please consult the resource guide at  There are people who can help.

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