I think Tolkein got this right in The Lord of the Rings with Frodo after the seemingly happy ending. Frodo was not the character he had been, what he had been through had caused him great suffering and it was apt he should leave the stage, so to speak, and that it was equally appropriate Sam did not. It also took a while for Frodo to come to the conclusion he should go. Yet the real ending of the trilogy is often glossed over - too painful for people to cope with perhaps? The final fate of the ring being sorted out seems a more natural end to the story, certainly it's a less painful one (unless you're Gollum!).
This time of year is a strange one too in terms of emotion. There's all the excitement of Christmas and New Year and yet, for those not part of this because they are alone, devastating loneliness. How do your characters cope with sadness? How do they cope with loneliness, especially when others around them are celebrating? What do they do to try to improve matters? There should be some poignant stories there.