"It's meant to be the happy time of year!"  Merle Haggard wrote that lyric in his hit "If We Make It Through December."  Then there's the Ernest Tubb classic, "Blue Christmas" from 1949, stating that "decorations of red on a green Christmas tree won't mean a thing dear, if you're not here with me!"

If you weren't feeling sad and lonely under the tree with those songs, how about the lost hope heard in Dolly Parton's lyrics to "Hard Candy Christmas?"  The haunting song goes "Maybe I'll sleep real late, maybe I'll lose some weight, maybe I'll just get drunk on Apple wine."

If you've ever called me to request an "unhappy" holiday song, I'm reaching out to you with a little holiday cheer!  Below are some tips to help you beat a "Blue (and Stressful) Chrsitmas."

  • Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
  • Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  • Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videotapes.
  • Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression too.
  • Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone's name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.