Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Holiday Blues...Fact or Fiction

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another 'auld lang syne'...

This Christmas song classic, Same Old Lang Syne, by Dan Fogelberg is a song I go from hating to really liking. I'm not sure how I feel about the song right at this moment, but during the holiday season, many of us are led to believe that despite this being a season of joy, it's often times a season of saddness for many others.

We've all heard about the holiday blues. For a variety of reasons, the holidays are also associated with depression and increased suicide rates.

Is there some hard evidence to back up this phenomenon?

Let's use plain logic. During the holidays, many of the innate dangers include:

1) Shopping. The crazy old ladies stampede during "Black Friday." Grabbing a flatscreen TV for $300 brings out the violent tendencies in even the most mild of grandmas. Two words, folks: online shopping. Learn it. Live it.

2) Overeating. Begin with Thanksgiving, throw in Christmas chocolate, beer, and more turkey - you've got a recipie for a heartattack. You'll probably join a fitness club and go the first couple months. By April, you'll forget where the damn club is located. But you know where McDonald's is, right?

3) Drunk driving. New Years can be deadly. Why people still drink and drive is really beyond me. If you want to kill yourself, go ahead. Just don't take an innocent family of four driving home from Christmas dinner with you.

4) Speaking of killing yourself. Suicides happen because you're depressed. Why would you be depressed this time of year? Maybe you lost out to one of those aggressive ladies in your quest for a cheap flatscreen. Maybe your expanding waist has got you down. Maybe you're all alone, and the holidays just make you feel even more solitary. Or, perhaps you HATE your family and you'd rather jump off a bridge than be stuck in a room with kin.

5) Speaking of depressed. Don't forget about all those Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferes out there. Our bodies respond to light...it's one of our great regulators. Shorter days, longer nights, cold temperatures - it's a very real disorder.

6) Finances. With all that giftgiving, did you really think that credit card bill was just going to go away? Add taxes to that list - maybe you live in a state where you pay some sort of personal property tax this time of year, as I do in Missouri. Forking over $3,000 by December 31st isn't so damn jolly, now is it? Don't forget about having to heat our homes and paying for gasoline for those holiday trips. By January, you're broke.

7) Work. You work in retail? I imagine you retail folks are suicidal by mid-December. I feel for you guys. I'm EXTRA nice to those in retail this time of year, unless they're jerks. Do you have major projects due? Isn't it fun cramming those last-minute performance reviews and budget worksheets before the end of the year so much fun?

Despite all of these stressors, the evidence shows that the suicide rates actually dip during the holiday seasons. Maybe spending time with friends and family lifts our spirits and helps us get through this tough time.

I wish you the best of luck getting through this time of year. And I hope you get a giant Christmas bonus check this year - even if it is a year-long subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club.


kim @ http://archphoenix.wordpress.com said...

Speaking from my experience in retail, I get more homicidal than suicidal. :)

KC said...

I would rather not have to celebrate Christmas at all, but since it's part of the family tradition (and I love my family), I go through the paces. It doesn't depress me, but it certainly frustates me. I'd rather stay home in my jammies, read a good book, drink a glass of wine, and just consider myself lucky that I have the day off from work.

cube said...

I enjoyed the Christmas season more when my daughters were little. It's still fun, but it's different now that they're in their teens *sigh*

As far as retail goes, I've always hated the shopping. For me, it's all about the family gatherings.

Phats said...

I can see this being true. My Grandma hates that song because my grandpa passed away the day before new year's eve and it makes her think of him. I love Christmas don't usually get depressed but I get tons of time off at Christmas haha

Seeker said...

Holiday time is a time for festivity and cheer. We need to celebrate the holidays as a time for bonding and not shopping.

Wish you a great holiday season

David Amulet said...

Interesting fact buried in there--suicide rates actually drop in the holiday season!

-- david

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I love that song...usually. If I'm in a nostalgic kind of mood, then it kind of depresses me.

And don't even talk to me about overeating and finances. One I have too much of, the other, not enough.

Not hard to figure out which is which, is it?


DaBich said...

I love the holidays (Christmas is wonderful) but all the work and hustle and bustle for a day or two is insane. If I had more time off work maybe it would be better.

Suicide rates drop? Wild!

Bruce said...

Yesterday's tragic happenings in Omaha once again bear out the depression/suicide theories surrounding the holidays.

The Egg said...

I'm not looking forward to the credit card bill. Too many expenses lately! Maybe I should bake goodies for everyone...The only time I got holiday blues was when I was in Hungary. We had our semester exams from the middle of Dec till the end of Jan. It was depressing as hell! Not when the Greek moms were there though--they'd make yummy food to feed a family of 30! Happy Holidays!

ozymandiaz said...

Don't forget the weather. It has a profound effect on the psyche, oh, and the end of college football. It always tears me up

Jamie Dawn said...

After reading all your points, I am really depressed.

Actually, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays!!
I am thrilled from Thanksgiving to New Years, then I get the blues because it's over.

I'm one of those people who gets happier the sunnier it is. I like sunshine and warmth and long, sunny days. I'm not a fan of cold weather and gray days. I much prefer summer clothing to winter clothing.
I like for it to be cold and snowy one day a year... on Christmas. I wish I could order it that way.

The Mad Hoosier said...

There have been quite a few studies over the years showing how depression rates climb during this time of the year. There are a multitude of reasons, ranging from physiological due to lower sunlight levels and more dreary days to family reasons.

Friends of mine have been recently divorced, and having little family around for this time a year is ceratinly depressing.

If you know people that don't have much family, or people living alone that don't get out much, take this opportunity to spread your cheer to them. Drop by for a quick visit, make a quick phone call...every little bit helps.

ajooja said...

Having to pay taxes this time of year really, really sucks.

I have a deadline at work on the 21st too, so it's difficult for me to enjoy the holidays until everything is finished and paid off.

And by then, I'm just glad it's over.

Big Pissy said...

I love that song...always have. :)

Christmas isn't such a big deal to me anymore...my kids have been grown for so long....it seems like little children enjoy it the most. :)

angel, jr. said...

I just heard that song on the radio and I'm in the hating it mood. I am not sure why I ever hated it.
Do you think that this song could me the cause of many people jumping off a bridge?

The Phoenix said...

I think a lot of people can relate to the song. Personally, I just don't like that kind of folky music. Just a personal preference.

the weirdgirl said...

My mom is treated for SAD every year. And yes, we do have a rainy period where it's overcast a lot but... we live in CALIFORNIA! She's getting meds now and it's still completely sunny out! Cold, yes, but still sunny!

wg at weirdgirl.typepad.com

(stupid Google)

Mr. Shife said...

Give my best to Al.
And I definitely feel the depression set in during this time of year. I have to fight through it sometimes because it can be bad.

Nessa said...

Ah, the hell with it all. Go to the Bahamas. Merry Jolly Holiday Time to All.

Karen said...

Love the holidays just don't like the work involved sometimes. But this year I had everything done in advance and now I can sit back and just enjoy the rest of the month.

Cicero said...

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the weather but these days the weather is so topsy turvy that I've been deprived of that one little bonus.

And so I shop in the heat!

Orhan Kahn said...

I've been trying so damn hard not to over-eat and dink thi Christmas period.. guess which one I've failed?

Lets just say, I didn't realised there was that much alcohol in a bottle of rum.

Perplexio said...

I love songs that tell stories and thus I love Same Auld Lang Syne.

I was quite saddened to hear of Fogleberg's death. I knew he'd been battling Cancer and was hoping he'd beat it.

Interesting note about Same Auld Lang Syne-- it actually happened. He bumped into an old high school girlfriend when visiting his family in Peoria, IL for Christmas in 1975 or 76.

Phats said...

Hey Phoenix hope you have a great holiday!! :)

~quoting beth said...

Bloody brilliant and worth the chuckle that I needed this day. As for the seasons ... I hate them! I need sunlight!!! Yes, it is very real. I'm not suicidal or anything but I would feel better if it weren't so darn cold and dreary.

cube said...

Didn't Dan Fogelberg die recently?

Jay said...

If you happen to survive Christmas, New Years is right around the corner to strike the second blow. Good times.

David Amulet said...

I just heard that Dan Fogelberg, who sang an "Auld Lang Syne" song died. You must have psychic powers to have cited the original.

Or not.

-- david

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