Are you homesick for the whole entire world? Of course you’re having family or friends for the holiday. But who’s that in the corner? Some unwelcome guests just showed up: anger, depression, and anxiety. Sheesh. If I’d have known you were coming, I would have left the house.

First things first. The sights and sounds of the holiday season might evoke dread and despair these days. And petty jealousies do arrive at family gatherings. You can’t force yourself to be happy simply because it’s a holiday. You may need to build a cushion around those gut-wrenching emotions that “coronamania” is causing. Even if everything is not living up to your expectations, you can learn to accept “what is.”

Hello, darkness, my old friend. Soon you’ll be here at 4 p.m. You may be feeling blue already as the days get darker and colder. It feels like bedtime when you get off from work at five. Your favorite part of winter is watching it on TV from Florida, eh? Well, we’re not quite at: “Love at frost sight” just yet. But have you become gloomier or feel like you lost your energy as of late? Well, just remember, one kind word can warm – and sometimes even thaw – a frozen heart.

Some folks say you have to let life turn you upside down so you can learn how to live right side up. And isn’t it amazing how the world begins to change through the eyes of a cuppa coffee? But do you wish you could stop the world from turning altogether right now? Whatever you do, don’t liven up your holidays by resurrecting unresolved family fights from eons ago. The reaction to the pandemic has beamed a spotlight on everything that is difficult, depleting, and distressing in your life.

You tried looking at the bright side of life and it hurt your eyes? Most of us can only dream about being in a Norman Rockwell painting: loving family or friends gathered around a festive table, warmhearted feelings just permeating the atmosphere. Instead, we may still be trying to impress that one in-law with a spotless house, or our friends or relatives with our gourmet presentations and perfectly fit physique. Speaking of which: the secret to a clean house? Never let your husband or children in it. I know. You were just about to clean your house, but then someone commented on your status.

But seriously, family time right now may be tainted with unwanted debates and convos about living in Coronaville. And some do not even have anyone to spend the holidays with.

Pushing yourself too hard can easily send your emotional health into a tailspin. If someone in your family or group has that immeasurable talent for turning every conversation into a family feud, remember that it’s okay to not be okay all of the time. Put on some soothing music and just breathe.

Whatever the reason for your sadness or suffering, do lean into your spirituality. Renew your beliefs and spend some quiet time in contemplation. What helps you? Organizing closets, fixing things around the house, woodwork, baking? Do it. I know, sometimes cleaning is like being caught in a revolving door. Whenever I clean out my closet, I take a GPS with me, so I can find my way back. If you’re anything like me, you don’t have too many clothes; you just don’t have enough closets.

Don’t just decide what you want to do. Decide what you want to be. How about a better listener? Hey, your secret’s safe with me because there’s a good chance I wasn’t even listening. Uh, oh. They say a good listener is a good talker – with a sore throat. How about being more present? After all, life is a sequence of moments: all called “now.”

Families and friendships are complex, layered with tons of trappings. Emotional baggage is heavy. If you get tired of carrying it around – just put it down. And bear in mind, sometimes when things go wrong, funny memories are actually made.

Volumes of research point to the unending benefit of exercise to uplift your mood. So get that heart rate up, anyway you know how. We don’t just have a happy holiday. We make it one. No need to slide into reruns from years gone by. Be creative and incorporate something new into your celebration this year. Every day that we are on this earth is another opportunity to make a difference.

No need to condone or judge the actions of others. Nor do you have to shrink into the overreaching, domineering government’s shadow. If you wish to start a crusade, go right ahead. Don’t worry about overly intrusive “masketeers” probing you about your personal choices. You have a right to proactively consider alternate views. Evaluate information as best as you can. Improve your vision and try to see things from a different perspective. Honor your own needs, but please know your boundaries, as well. Open up to someone with whom you may disagree in a calm, respectful way. You may be surprised at how cathartic that can be.

Prioritize relaxation. Let loved ones know that they matter to you. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to express gratitude for having them in your life. Feel like overindulging in gift-giving this year? Okay, if anyone is shopping for me, I’m a size “window seat” in plane tickets.

May your roads be smooth and your burdens be light, sweet friends. May love light your home and hearts. Above all, keep hope always beside you.

 Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at