Tis’ the Season….to want jolly!

There was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said I want! I want! I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to supress it, it got stronger.                             SAUL BELLOW

Stats continue to inform us that there are more incidents of child abuse, spousal abuse, suicide attempts and completion, ER visits, relationship dissolutions, financial setbacks occurring between late November through the first week of January than any other season.

My theory behind this pattern: Our desires to be JOLLY,set against a backdrop of idyllic scenarios of holiday utopia, intensifies expectations….and then, POW…..”Christmas” doesn’t measure up.

A group of researchers examined personality types and found that most people valued “being happy” as a primary purpose of life (this was part of my dissertation work).  Think about it for a moment….if some one asked you want you want for yourself, and my field of pediatrics, what we want for “the children” …you would say “TO BE HEALTHY, AND HAPPY.”

It’s ingrained into the fabric of our identity. As children, our parents provide guidelines for the pursuit of happiness. Researchers discovered, however, that that mantra “Just be Happy,” actually increases anxiety. The more we think about life ideals, the less idealic life is.


I consider the state of “my life” a whole lot. The secure superego (think, parent) convening daily conferences while the frenzied ego (think, “authentic me”) attempts to drag in the bleating id (think, 1st grader) drooling with uncyleable thirsting. The superego has read some research about how people get happy. It wants to develop a new program to proffer such desirable results. The ego has to consult budgetary expenditures to fund such risky ventures. The id isn’t paying attention,  it is inhaling a Panera Cinnamon Crunch Bagel underneath the table. Its feet too short to reach the floor.

The constant pursuit of HAPPINESS….the lights strung just so, the turkey braised just right, the gifts chosen with clarity and meaning…..can leak out the jolly out of anyone. And I think this pattern is particularly exhibited in WOMEN during the holidays.

But all people, tend not to appreciate who they are because we’re always on the prowl.  We are too busy always looking to trade up, to get better, to improve, that we don’t have enough mental clarity left over to recognize what we are, what we have.

If I am always on the “come on, Get happy” wagon…I sort of miss the recognition that I already am.

Not to mention: being “happy” is really over-rated.

We sense the greatest sense of fulfillment following struggle. A delivery. A marathon. A task.  Unexpected, unfunded, unearned pleasure. And then it visualizes: the id munches on world swooning waffles, gesticulating in sacred vestibules.  And it is okay, to quote Bourdain

and i am hungry for more

Thus, I expected this holiday season to be VERY hard, and yes, at first I was fearful….and then, I attempted to quelch that I WANT I WANT.  And, Yes, I pity-partied the sorry state of my life two days ago FAILING miserably after an incident with the vitamix, cake balls, blue food coloring and my “wanting to make a good impression” desert for the office holiday party.

But overall, and for the most part, I am experiencing that if I could honor the want, and yet not expect “idealic” fulfillment, or judge that my wanting signified failure,  I could appreciate the land of


Particularly with the help of my friends….

……and wine

…..and the vitamix, of course.


What makes you jolly?


8 thoughts on “Tis’ the Season….to want jolly!

  1. you totally nailed it on the head with the whole “the more i want to be happy the more anxious i am over it” thing. happiness is definitely one of those things that the more you try to get it you cannot have it.

    living in the moment (ie going out with friends or getting lost in a book or anything that i can get absorbed and forget the clock!) makes me jolly. the thing about it is what i just mentioned: focusing on it makes it impossible to happen. it’s all about letting GO. very tough for my type-A self to understand as i’m from a very calculated formulaic world!

  2. i was just talking about this with a friend the other day! i agree completely. the more i try for happiness the more elusive it is. when i just live and do what i want, happiness slips in the back door.

    what is making me happy lately? the sidewalks in my neighborhood FINALLY have paths cleared so i can cross the street without climbing a snow mountain. it is the little things 🙂

  3. I never really thought about this, quite possibly because I don’t celebrate Christmas, but it makes sense as to why there would be an increase in violence or abuse. Is it weird that this time of year is really no different for me? I really do think it is because I don’t celebrate Christmas. For me, the holidays are over with. It can be a stressful time of year. Thanks for the great post and insight.

    What makes me jolly? Spending time with my husband and chatting on the phone with friends and family back in the States.

  4. The fact that Christmas appears so idyllic on the outside is what really stresses me out. But this year I’m trying to roll with the punches – if I don’t make enough roast beef nobody is going to die! If we run out of potatoes we won’t starve! Putting things like this into perspective will hopefully get me through this holiday season with a better outcome.

  5. I definitely agree that we get the most fulfillment following struggle.
    I do think it is our DNA to try and always be better, want more, continue to strive for excellence. You have to take a step back and ask yourself, is this making you truly happy. We often overlook the little day to day things because we are so preoccupied with the bigger picture.

  6. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves as we give in to society’s expectations. When i allow muself to be who I am in the moment, I find my peace. It’s difficult to remain in that place though.

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