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Give Me Some of those Holiday Homecoming Blues

With the drop in temperature comes a certain dawning, the formation of a certain mood. Most people tend to associate the Holidays with drops in temperature and colder weather, but this is the general comfortable cold and not the frigid chill of deep winter. It is also during these days that normally sane and stable people can end up going into a bit of a panic, with all the last-minute shopping and the “I can’t think of a gift” relatives. For the most part, all this stress and borderline insanity is pretty much worth it once the dust settles. The Holidays, with all the reunions and homecomings that come with them, can be a source of some truly unexpected amounts of stress and anxiety, usually from the same general sources.

Students coming home from their first year in college tend to cause quite a bit of pressure and stress on the parents who are going to receive them. There’s quite a bit of getting used to, for one thing. Teenagers coming home from college for the first time have also been away from home for the first time. Having gotten used to living without parental interference, they can often cause a lot of tension when they behave like the independents they perceive themselves to be while the parents would rather still have them under their control. Parents making themselves seem unable to really accept that their child is not the same person that left their home the year before can often end up fighting short bouts of depression, though anger is also a common response. However, defiance of parental authority is not the only aspect of a family relationship that can get stretched during the season.

Stress and anxiety also come into play in the preceding days, particularly the period where preparations and gift shopping enter the “critical zone.” There are expectations to be fulfilled and images to maintain, which some Eastern peoples might associate with the concept of “face.” The drive to make sure each and every little detail fits a certain image or projects a certain image that the decorator wants it to can become a major source of stress in some communities. This can be compounded further if the decorator is intent on making things perfect for visiting family members, such as kids who have been off to college or close friends who have been working overseas.

All this pressure and over-extending stress is clearly a negative thing. The effects generally pass once the Holidays are over, but certain situations can take time to really sink into the average person. The Holidays are the times when people come home after a prolonged absence and hope to find everything untouched and unchanged from when they left. Yet, they come to realize that they’re not the same people as when they left and little things they missed, like the way their room was decorated or where their favorite little trinket from childhood was placed, have changed. The adjustments can take time because both parties don’t inform each other of these changes, which may seem insignificant to one side, but can have impact on the emotional health of the other.

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