Thursday, December 22, 2005

A toast

I've known intellectually for a long time that the holiday season and depression have gone hand in hand. It wasn't until I got to be a somewhat mature woman though that I experienced it or even really saw it among the people I knew. I still don't know if this is because of the present-a-perfect-image world in which I grew up or if the people I knew in my younger days just escaped this particular malady. Until I was well into my 20s, the only negative thing I saw anybody experience about Christmas was hostess stress and the over closeness of family.

That pales to the sadness that so many people feel during this time or how it stands out even more sharply because of what we think we should be feeling or doing. This year, it seems to be more widespread than usual. Maybe it's because my friends and I are getting older. Many of us are dealing with parents who are developing the difficulties of old age, illnesses which don't go away and minds which don't stay. Others are helping their children as they handle their first adult crises of unexpected job loss, marriage breakups, illness and the mixed feelings that come with an unanticipated pregnancy. So many people have experienced financial setbacks over the last few years that I know more and more people who are struggling just to cover the basics. Many of these people once regarded themselves as too smart or too industrious to ever have this type of problem.

I've never been one to say that times are getting harder. I pretty much think that times have always been difficult. It's only the nature of the problems that change. I also think that we have culturally lost some stoicism over the years. People being open about their problems, okay, even whining about them, has become a hallmark of our times. While this openness does enable us to act on problems more quickly, it does make our world seem sadder than it is.

Happiness has become a scarcity, and that has increased its value. Like the visibly flawed, quarter carat diamond engagement rings so many of my early-to-wed college friends proudly flaunted, little things are bringing joy. Lifting my glass: Here's to the friend who found that she hadn't rolled over a 401k from a job she left years ago and that cashing it in would bring her delinquent mortgage current. Here's to the family whose son detoxed in jail and is still sober a week later. Here's to the young man who found a hundred dollar bill literally stuck to the bottom of his shoe, making it possible for him to go home for Christmas. Here's to the girl whose company decided at the last minute to reinstate an annual cash bonus, making it possible for her to buy Christmas presents. Here's to the four week sample pack of Zolofft I found at the bottom of a laundry hamper filled with old papers to be filed.

Here's to happiness. Here's to cosmic surprises. Here's to little blessings. Here's to light in the middle of darkness. Here's to the hope which sustains and nurtures us all.


Blogger Solitary Dancer said...

That reminds me of a time when I was so down and out and I needed a bit of money in the worst way.

I was walking down the street and saw a side walk book sale. I stopped and picked up a book for nickel. I don't even remember the book's title but what I found I will never forget.

$80.00 tucked between the pages allowed me to survive a few more days.

December 22, 2005 7:58 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

It's nice to be reminded of little miracles from time to time...

Intresting theories here. I'd like to add that the general mood of the country at large is not adding to anyone's feeling of well-being this Christmas season.

December 22, 2005 9:05 AM  
Blogger Jod{i} said...

And here is to you for enlightening my day!

December 22, 2005 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zoloft in the laundry hamper--how can you not love that! ;)
It's cheered you up already, hasn't it?! Total mood change here--awesome entry!

December 22, 2005 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops. I gotta learn to quit doing that. That was me, sweetie: Paula (you know, your junkie...!)

December 22, 2005 10:33 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Thank you for the wonderful post. Yeah, I imagine you are right...think how tough things were the Christmas after Pearl Harbor.

My Blog
Click here for recipes & food stuff

December 22, 2005 12:48 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

Cynthia you express everything so well. I have similar thoughts but cannot express them with the clarity that you do. I was thinking the other night about the commercials. If you believe them you would think that every person can afford to give their spouse diamond jewelery of DeBeers quality. People have become so materialistic and don't realise how others struggle for the basics. It's sad but having the struggles, one can stil experience the joy of finding the free Zoloft. :) I toast you for this wonderful entry and for sharing so much of yourself with us. Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2005 3:12 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Cynthia, your post reminded me of my own Judi, how has gone through so much in this life, but still manages hope and to find the good in things and in people.

Also, here's a toast to you for your light!

Peace, Virginia

December 23, 2005 10:33 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

So true .... I did a piece on this last year around the same time, because someone I love suffers from Seasonal depression. Thanks for an interesting read. Tina

December 23, 2005 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anne/ksquester said...

Wonderful! Here's to the 11 yr old boy whose name I picked on an angel tree. The ONLY thing he wanted (needed) was underware and shoes. I think he shall have a good Christmas this year. Anne

December 25, 2005 12:05 AM  
Blogger Ayn said...

Hi Cynthia,

It was really nice of you to write on the sadness people sometimes feel during the holidays. I am grateful for the happy stories too, but I like the courage of people, throughout life spans, in carrying for their crises and those of their love ones.

I also liked your perspective on the exchange of cultural stoicism for today's openness. I believe it is progress that people don't need to suffer alone. It's bad enough that we simply suffer, better we reach hands out to one another. Great Post!

Hope your Christmas has been Merry, and your New Years Happy!


December 26, 2005 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Vicodin said...

Remember, keep this Zoloft and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

January 21, 2006 2:45 PM  

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