The quick answer to the question posed in the title is this: They don’t have to, as nobody knows the context of what you are feeling but you.
In full disclosure, I am one of the lucky ones. I was raised in a loving family unit, and though most of my closest relatives from childhood have since passed away my memories of them are fond. I have suffered extreme sadness over their losses and most especially that of my dad, but I never suffered from depression.
And yet, I have engaged in two relationships where my partners suffered, respectively, from clinical and chemical depression. I am a former special education teacher with a substantive course load in Abnormal Psychology (a term I believe is unfair due to the unanswered question as to who exactly is defining “normalcy”), whose student population was labeled “at-risk” and possessed of moderate to severe emotional disabilities. Many if not most of my students also suffered from depression-related issues.
Years following my first relationship as referenced above, I came to a valuable conclusion. I myself once suffered from a psychological disorder for which I received medical attention and I remember all too well. My illness was agoraphobia, a condition characterized by an irrational fear of open spaces, which led to me not leaving my apartment for weeks at a time. See here for my NewsBreak story on the subject, entitled “Six Steps to Light: Overcoming Acute Panic Disorder.” What I realized was in my own moments of extreme panic I was not in my right mind. Instead, I was in a prism of mind of which I could not escape. I was trapped… but those moments passed.
My conclusion about depression and anxiety issues was to revisit my own feelings of panic and helplessness during those horrific moments and transpose them to one who suffers with little or no break. (See links for two of my related NewsBreak articles.) By so doing, I have been better able to comprehend the bleakness, as there is no on-off switch for depression.
The introduction of the holidays tends to make matters worse for the sufferer. The fact that we are still in the midst of a pandemic only serves to further compound the issue for many.
See here for my article “Alone for the Holidays. Alone with Depression.”
There is always hope. However, informing one who suffers of that truth will frequently fall upon deaf ears, as unless the person offering to help has experienced those same issues, it is very difficult to take such overtures seriously.
Perhaps this hotline will help both parties:
To return to the question as posed in this article’s title — “Why Should Thanksgiving and Christmas Mean Anything to Me?” — allow me to add to my response: If you do not feel anything positive during the holiday season, your mechanism should become one of coping. If you click on some of the articles linked herein, various coping mechanisms are listed. This comprehensive piece from the Mayo Clinic offers a variety of coping skills as well, most importantly the encouragement to seek professional help if needed.
Nobody but you understands how you feel and what you experience during the holiday season. Those sincerely trying to help are sometimes difficult to identify or even trust, and a sense of apathy will do neither party any favors.
If you have no one in your life and are feeling downcast during the holidays, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, even if you do not have suicidal ideology but desperately need someone with whom to talk.
I hope you have found this article of some value. Thank you for reading.