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That Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

November 6, 2013

The days are shorter, the weather colder; all telling us that the end of the year is approaching and we are entering the doldrums of winter. Medical science has named a syndrome often associated with this time of year, Seasonal Affective Disorder, whose symptoms include depression, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, oversleeping, appetite changes with an associated weight gain and difficulty concentrating. Yet in 1963 a song written by Edward Pola and George Wyle was released by Andy Williams as part of his first Christmas album seems to deny S.A.D. and the overwhelming sense of darkness that often pervades winter. The song, It’s That Most Wonderful Time of the Year, seems to celebrate the gaiety that so many gird themselves with in the face of the encroaching gloom of winter; all seemingly in celebrating the birth of a baby some 2000 years ago.

What is the purpose of the veneer of joy that many don to face the end of the year? Nowhere in Mr. Pola’s song is mention made of the supposed reason for the season; indeed it seems the sole reason for the gaiety is hosting parties, toasting marshmallows, singing songs in the snow, telling ghost stories and remembering past Christmases when such veneers of happiness were worn. Are we afraid to face the end of the year without this false jollity because it symbolizes the end of life that we all must one day face and what does a baby born to a poor Jewish family in some ancient subjugated nation have to do with us today anyway?

As time has gone by I’ve noticed that each year the stores are preparing for the “holiday season” earlier and earlier (one person I spoke to at an A.C. Moore® store in our area decried how rushed they were to take down the Halloween products and put up the Christmas ones at the same time. Chaos reigns in many stores as the staff seeks to beat others to the punch of attracting the eyes of shoppers to their emporium of Christmas delights (excuse me, perhaps in keeping with the politically correct nonsense so prevalent today I should say holiday delights). What madness has seized us and why this impulsive rush to “…don we now our gay apparel…”?

It usually begins with Labor Day as stores ramp up their decorations for Halloween while preparing the items planned for the biggest time of the year for most stores, the ‘holiday season.’ We rush madly from Halloween to Thanksgiving (why do most never specify to whom we are thankful?), which is really nothing more than a small speed bump on the way to THE season that can make or break a stores revenues for the year. If spending exorbitantly was the panacea for all ills in the world, then January would usher in a time of peace and contentment that is beyond our imagining, but it’s just another day and more bright paint and glitter thrown on the greying walls of winter with the mail bringing notices of how extravagant we were during the bacchanalia that many consider the Christmas/holiday season.

So, to quote from the title of a 1966 movie starring Michael Caine, What’s It All About, Alfie? Is this all that we can do in the face of such medical syndromes as S.A.D., or is there another way to survive the lassitude that so often characterizes winter? Do we live only for the temporary solace of overindulgence or can we seek comfort in a manner that doesn’t destroy our family budgets and perhaps, just perhaps can help us to live in a manner that will not only survive, but thrive throughout the year? Perhaps if we take a closer look at this baby that is mostly hidden by the glitter and glitz of ‘holiday preparation’ we can change our focus and live through this season with a modicum of calm versus the panicked desperation that fills the malls with such chaos.

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