The 5 Emotional Stages Of Christmas — Excitement Through Depression

by Tori Lyn

Christmas is undoubtedly a very special time of year. From the tree, to the gifts, to the time spent with family, it’s a widely anticipated holiday that always seems to go by way too fast.

Despite our best efforts to savor every moment, each year, we seem surprised by how quickly holiday season arrives and passes us by.

It can also be difficult to comprehend how on earth we could possibly have all of our shopping, wrapping and wine-purchasing completed as the big day sneaks up on us.

Though we may not want to admit it, we all go through different waves of emotions on Christmas. From the highs to the lows, we'll experience at least one of the following stages as we celebrate yet another holiday with loved ones.


You are in full-on pre-Christmas mode, which usually consists of equal parts eagerness and anxiety.

Whether you’re doing some last-minute wrapping, braving the wild masses at the department stores one last time or excitedly awaiting the arrival of your extended family for the holidays, the anticipation of it all is killing you.

Though some choose to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with certain family members, for those who don’t, it’s just a big waiting game.

You could call it the calm before the storm… or more commonly, a day to relax your body and mind until tomorrow, when you know you will be covered in wrapping paper and glitter, energized by cinnamon rolls and doughnuts and most likely, drunk off mimosas by noon.

While you try to distract yourself with pre-Christmas activities, or you're like me and require a Christmas movie to be watched by all family members the night before, you can’t help but think excitedly about tomorrow’s festivities and how happy you are this special day has finally arrived.


It’s Christmas; it’s Christmas! The day we’ve waited for all year is finally here! If you’re anything like me, you were up with the sun, waiting in crazed impatience for the rest of your family to slowly roll out of bed and make themselves comfortable around the tree.

You’re exhausted – no doubt due to the massive amount of Christmas movies and hot cocoa in which you overindulged the night before, but you’re ready to rally through and make this day the best Christmas ever!

From the minute you pass out the first gift for your brother or sister to open (Or, what a surprise! This first gift seems to be for me!), you are on a full-blown Christmas high.

Put on the Andy Williams Christmas soundtrack, take a couple selfies for Instagram in your pink polka-dotted onesie (complete with an obligatory “Merry Christmas To All!” caption and a Santa emoji) and enjoy this moment of pure happiness.

After all, you’ve been waiting 364 days for this! Just try not to get anxiety when someone doesn’t open his or her gift fast enough… and breathe.


The gifts have been opened; you’ve showered (yet, you’re still in your onesie for some unknown reason), and your unrelenting excitement has been replaced with a strong feeling of satisfaction.

Everyone was happy with the gifts you doled out; nobody judged your gift-wrapping skills, and your Mom got misty-eyed looking around at all her kids, home for the holidays.

You’ve probably stuffed your face with more cookies and cupcakes than necessary, and since you’ve been up since 5 am, you’re in utter disbelief that it’s only 10 am. To put it plainly, your current status is fat and happy.

The gifts have been opened, your belly has been stuffed and the delicious smells of even more food baking in anticipation for the visiting family members wafts through the air.

As you kick back and reflect on the morning’s events, hugging your new fuzzy blanket against your chest, you realize this is what it’s all about — family, food and fun.

You wonder what’s happening in your chest as you feel a weird sensation and then smile later upon realizing that your small heart grew three sizes that day. (Insert eye-roll on my Grinch reference, but I had to!)


Must… eat… one… more… cookie.

By 3 pm, you are beginning to wither away and have become merely a shell of the person you were this morning. You have been awake for far too long, had way too many cookies and (according to your Mom) “way too much wine.” Doesn’t she know it’s Christmas?

Your excited and festive persona has begun to diminish, and you realize it’s been three hours since you’ve moved from the couch.

Though your siblings have packed theirs away and straightened up the living room, your gifts are still strewn about, wrapping paper still stuck to the sides, and somehow, you’ve managed to get a sticky Christmas bow stuck in your hair.

You start to panic that this day is half over and the Christmas spirit you’ve enjoyed for the past month is beginning to wane.

Despite your best efforts to resist, you feel the only way to keep your momentum going and not dissolve on the couch completely is to turn up the Andy Williams, pour yourself another glass of wine, and continue to eat because that’s what the jolly Saint Nick would want from you.

Now, pull yourself together and rally!


It’s December 26. You aren’t sure how it happened, but you’re still on the couch, tucked in, with your fuzzy blanket and a half-eaten cookie in hand.

The last thing you remember is playing "Sleigh Ride" one last time, much to the chagrin of your family members and shouting belligerently that you “must keep the spirit of Christmas alive!”

As you comprehend that the most anticipated day of the year is over, you find yourself lost and confused. While you lay on the couch, deep in thought and finish your cookie, you realize it may not be the actual day of Christmas you look forward to the most, but the excitement and anticipation that surrounds the holiday season as a whole.

Christmas is understandably the climax of the season, but from the wrapping of gifts, to the decorating of the tree, to the arrival of family members, you realize the compassion and love surrounding this holiday and all seasonal holidays are what makes this time special.

It only took a couple listens to “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” and a cookie/wine blackout to realize that.

Yes, it’s December 26, and that kind of sucks, but the good news is there are a ton of leftovers; your family is still around for a few more days, and there are only 364 more days until the next celebration. That will fly by, right?

Now, who wants to go shopping?! The after-Christmas deals are insane.

Whether you find yourself going through one or even all of these emotional stages of Christmas, just remember one thing: It's Christmas.

Hopefully, you're lucky enough to spend the special holiday with some family members, leave all the day-to-day worries behind and enjoy a happy time, spent together.

Though it can be stressful, and we may go through multiple waves of emotions as we try to savor each second, it will undoubtedly go by quickly, as time always does when you're having fun.

Just don't let yourself forget to take a deep breath and enjoy the little things. After all, this day only comes once a year and should be one filled with relaxation, laughter and cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.