A woman bundled up in a down jacket and a hoodie frowns at the camera.

I Invented a Tradition to Get me through Winter Doldrums.

Dark days were not the only source of my dark mood.

Dawn Downey
2 min readDec 1, 2023


I needed help coping with The Holidays. I dreaded the holidays. I felt disconnected and depressed from Halloween to New Years.

The physical SAD could be reduced by time in front of a light therapy lamp, but the emotional sad could not. My loneliness increased in pace with the intensity of everyone else’s joy and togetherness. My family had families of their own. My siblings had produced children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren I didn’t even know, because we’d lived on opposite sides of the the country for decades. Then there were the Christmas cards depicting white angels, sent to me — a non-white non-Christian.

I released my pent-up anxiety with a burst of January greed. I shopped the end-of year sales, and the sales were good. A single on-sale purchase justified splurging on at least fifteen non-sale goodies. Depression didn’t care about a budget. Besides, January was my birthday month.

Every year. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I thought it was only me. Seasonal depression turned me into an egomaniac. Me me me. I was centered on my own misery.

Gracious readers taught me there’s nothing wrong with how I feel. Readers confided they felt the same way. I learned no matter how unique my feelings seemed to me, no matter what supposedly exclusive weirdness I laid claim to, I was not unique.

Someone else, probably several somebodies, might have been constricted by emotions like mine.

Ta-dah. My annual December 25 Author Reading. Really, Dawn? You’re doing a Zoom author reading on Christmas Day?

Yup, because I’m not unique.

For you somebodies who muddle through the holidays rather than relish them, I humbly offer an hour of entertainment and company on December 25. I’ll read an essay that won’t have anything to do with the holidays, followed by a chatty Q&A.

The cure for my October to January blues turns out to be reaching out to others. Take down the curtain of my defensive isolation. Put my embarrassed-to-be-lonely self on full view in front of a (laptop) camera and focus on someone other than me me me.

Join me on Zoom for my new holiday tradition.

Dawn’s Monthly Author Reading

Time: Dec 25, 2023 12:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 872 0890 4410

Passcode: 631879