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?