January 06, 2015

Why these two days are the hardest all year

The first few days back to work after the Holidays are the worst all year. Why? It’s all about the Holidays themselves.

It may seem cliche, but I believe it's true: the holidays are special. There's something different in the air. People are friendlier, there's a feeling of goodwill, and there's lots of festivities.
You see it everywhere. The decorations help, and seem ubiquitous: in the workplace, on the city streets, in most homes. You look around and can't help but know that this time of year stands apart from all the rest.

The amount of event invitations skyrockets. Friends have house parties, companies have office parties, and there's always impromptu events that just seem to happen such as shopping meet-ups and coffee with friends we haven't seen in months. People reach out, connect and seek out the company of old friends. Our social commitments ratchet up like no other time in the year.

There's something in the air. It's the Holiday season.

It doesn't matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else. If you're walking around during the month of December you instantly know it's there. It's a tangible presence. It's in the decorations, in the clothes, in the familiar red kettle volunteers, and even in the air. You could time travel from a different month and year and instantly know that you landed in December.

In addition to being something you see it's something you feel. It gets inside of you; fills you with end of year reflection, a quiet meditative state combined with bursts of revelry and a desire to reconnect with loved ones. All of which occurs if you're lucky enough and make it happen. It's truly a magical time.

Which is precisely why it's so hard to give it up.

Many people take a few days off around the holiday season. For those that celebrate Christmas it's Christmas Day, perhaps the day after and Christmas Eve. However, lots of folks are even luckier: they save up most of their vacation all year just for this end of year hurrah. They take the entire time from Christmas Eve to New Years Day off, and some even squeeze in extra days, starting as far back as December 19.

And this is why the first two days are the hardest of the whole year. It's because we've had this time off. We've connected with loved ones, with friends. We've given and received gifts. We've laughed hard, partied on, eaten and drank well, and didn't worry about our normal day to day routine at all. It's as if it didn't exist. For those two weeks things were as they should be: focused on fun, spending time with family.

By the time we come back from this extended vacation we've been out for multiple days, maybe weeks. We're relaxed, we've had an abundance of fun and we think, "why isn't the rest of the year like this?". But alas, it does end. And when we do come back the real world comes crashing in hard. And it stands in such stark contrast to the Holiday celebrations that it can be jarring. We're expected to step back into our normal responsibilities with our deadlines and commitments. It can be tough, like peering into another person's mindset.

And that time is now. New Year's Day was Thursday, which generally signals the end of the Holiday season. This week the normal routine kicks back in. So to all suffering through this re-adjustment period know that others feel your pain. The allure of the Holidays is strong.

And for those that need some additional comfort, know that this is a new year with a new Christmas somewhere down the road. It's far down that road, but comforting to know it's there.