Tag Archives: Clarence the angel

Have A Nice Day

The third Monday of January has long been recognized as the most depressing day of the year.  This no doubt refers to it being a day that collectively, most people find to be depressing.  It should in no way mitigate the individuals’ own special personal days of bleakness.  But, it is said, that like New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving and the like, the third day of January is a shared celebration.  No silly hats, champagne or mini-marshmallows, this communal experience has more to do with hiding under the covers.  It is the day on which we presumably realize the extent of our December expenditures and the temporary nature of our resolutions.

Well the third Monday has come and gone, and it’s safe to say the gloom lingers.  If December is the month of “goodwill towards man,” January is the month of “get the hell out of my way.”  The general crankiness simply can not be ignored.  Ordinarily I chose to react to Scrooge McDuckery with thoughts of “oh that poor man must not be feeling well.”  I force myself to consider the health emergency that woman (screaming into her cell phone on the bus) must be having.  I am now running out of scenarios and patience.  Even dear Pollyanna would be exhausted at the end of January.  When the grumpy old man visiting my upstairs neighbor cursed at me in the elevator, I actually cried.  Even the sturdiest of us does not wither from an old man’s curse.  When the woman pawing through boxes of shoes as if looking for hidden treasure, pulled them all down upon me, I got a little sad.  When she told me to move because now the piles of boxes and crumpled me were in her way, I got a little angry.  And that must be how it starts.

The artificially induced good cheer of December is gone.  Bills have mounted, social events have dwindled, the news is filled with political sniping, and we did not succeed at quitting smoking and losing 20 pounds.  We start our day cranky, and then we are forced into a world with other cranky people.  Even in the virtual world, you can see a spike in snark,  I have not conducted an actual study, but observations would suggest that tweets and blog comments today are as dark as 5:00 on a January afternoon.  There you are, reading through a news site, interested in the (potentially) insightful comments made by other readers and BAM!: the equivalent of schoolyard taunting and/or graffiti appears.  Never insightful, rarely humorous, these remarks are the equivalent of a toddler’s tantrum.  “Look at me” they scream, “I am SO relevant.”  Of course these small minded snarks are always around, but during other months they don’t appear often on serious news sites.

It’s January.  I’m no groundhog, but I’m going to estimate we have at least two months left of winter.  Might I suggest we take a collected cleansing breath.  Let’s remind ourselves that it is January now but soon it won’t be.  The bills will get paid, one way or another.  Spring is always a better time to start a physical fitness regime.  And the best way to make the world seem a little cheerier is to be a little cheerier.  Smile at someone.  Hold a door open.  Let today be the day you do not stand in front of the subway door.  Ask the tourist if they need directions.  And remember, just because you have thought of a snarky comeback, doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud.  If Clarence the angel paid you a visit today, don’t you really want to see all the people in your past not having their feelings hurt?


Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Cultural Critique


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Haul Out The Holly

The stash of Halloween candy has dwindled to the anemic lollipops and generic hard candies.  “Find gloves and scarves” is written on to-do-lists, and soups and root vegetables have been welcomed back into the home.  This can only mean one thing: it’s time to start the frenzy we politely call “the Holidays.”  Full disclaimer: I’m not sure who invented the colloquialism and I’m not entirely sure how encompassing it is.  I think it is the categorization of; Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year celebrations.  Like vegetarianism, the category seems pliable enough to fit the individual’s needs.  “Christmas” can be traded for “solstice” or “Chanukah” or “Kwanza.”  Which, as you can well imagine, does not help my confusion.  But no time for such concerns.  Veterans Day is almost upon us.  We must move and move fast.

Retail displays taunt us with their readiness as do television advertisements.  “You are already behind, you may never catch up!!!”  Even philanthropy (indisputably the very best product of the “season”) has jumped the gun.   The first New York Times Neediest Cases has appeared this week (originating 100 years ago on December 15th.)  I don’t think it’s anyone’s imagination that the frenzy starts earlier and earlier every year.  If only we treated our impending retirement needs in this manner!

I am no Grinch.  Really.  I love Thanksgiving; a holiday of food, family, friends, parade and pie.  I love how the world gets decorated for Christmas and everyone seems genuinely giddy.  I adore the classic movies of the “season.” My November and December would not be complete without visits from Natalie Wood (“I believe, I believe, it’s silly, but I believe”), Jimmy Stewart (“Attaboy Clarence”), the Heat Miser, Rudolph and yes, The Grinch.  I also love an excuse to dress a little fancy and feel grateful for invitations which allow me to do so.  I simply love the festivities, but not, definitely not, the frenzy.

The frenzy is responsible for people incurring consumer debt, often for gifts not needed or wanted.  At times, the consumer debt is so disproportionate to the household income, it takes almost a year to recover (and start all over again.)  Gift cards (their own evil web of exploitation) are purchased in huge amounts (evidently cash is offensive but an Old Navy gift card is not.)  Big box retailers are doing their part during these tough economic times and offering lay-away.  For a fee, you can have the retailer maintain possession of an item as you make regular payments (cement shoes are optional.)  The financial burden aside, the emotional toll this frenzy takes is absurd.  It is often the women in our culture who are lured into this vortex.  Decorating, baking, greeting cards, photos, shopping, wrapping, delivering, cooking, entertaining, usually (but not always) defaults to the woman in the household.  I am reminded of my friend’s mother-in-law, whom after hosting her very large family (yet again) one Christmas, plopped down on the couch with a large alcoholic beverage and proclaimed; ‘It’s Christmas for me too you know.”  Of course, she’s also the woman who gave my friend a Christmas theme sweater for her (summer) birthday explaining; “It’s for the holidays!”  Victim or perpetrator?  You decide.

So I will hold my head high as I resist the siren song of holiday frenzy.  I will affix my festively adorned blinders and grab all the joy of this season that is there for the taking.  I will walk past the shops, admiring their windows.  I will peruse the magazine layouts and shiny catalogs (because darn it, they’re pretty.)  I will pour sherry and pass chocolates at our family’s annual reading of David Sedaris’s Holidays On Ice as Johnny Mathis plays. And I will wish the same for you.  Happy Holidays!

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Cultural Critique, Holiday


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,