I know a handful of people who get giddy with delight in the holiday season, which now virtually stretches from Halloween to Presidents Day, it seems.
But really, the tiny group of folks who get all goofy with good cheer in the weeks leading up to Christmas, they are the exception that proves the rule.
It seems to me that there is far greater number that find the holidays to be taxing and exhausting, at best, and I dare say that fully half the population goes through some form of melancholy at this time of year, ranging from mild discouragement to clinical depression.
This year seems worse than ever. The Salvation Army--always serving as a Christmas reminder that lots of people are desperately poor--reports that donations in Minnesota are a full $1 million below target. Religious violence between Muslims and Hindus has erupted in India, at least giving us something other than Muslim/Christian war to worry about.
One of my editors is struggling with newly erupted grief over the loss of her mother, who died at this time last year. My son, an honorable and hardworking young man, is banging his head against an economy that is hiring no-one at the moment, trying to keep his optimism amidst a steady drizzle of "Sorry, we're not hiring" letters from employers.
My best friend is exhausted from a lifetime of caring for family members, a duty that gets even more weighty at the holidays. The only corporation that seems to be thriving is WalMart, which perhaps gives their leadership reason to chortle that using third-world child labor isn't as bad as everybody thought. My dad, a paragon of strength and health for the first 65 years of his life, has in recent years begun to fall apart mechanically, and last week underwent an extremely painful shoulder surgery.
These various forms of human suffering are always present, of course, but they become much more obvious at the holidays, because this is the time we feel such pressure to be of good cheer, to ignore various forms of suffering in favor of yule-tide good will.
So I don't know about you, but this year I've decided just to feel what I feel, and say the hell with al this false effort to put lipstick on an ugly pig. There is suffering in the world, lots of it, and it doesn't go away just because Hallmark runs a tear-jerking holiday television movie.
In my rebellion, I feel better already.