While this post is probably best read in the dead of winter, generally between Christmas and Tax Day, I was too busy this year to get it done at that time; The second wettest year in recorded history in my area, this place was a disaster area (oh and I didn’t have my blog yet).
We 99% share something in common, well a lot of things if we’re being honest, and they are all connected in a way. This particular post however, we are going to focus on:
Depression (also known as the “winter blues”, “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, or “being broke”)
Yes, you read that right, I just said that depression (seasonal or otherwise) is often directly correlated to money issues, don’t believe me, google it.
According to mainstream medical information 10%-20% of seasonal depression cases happen in late fall and continue through winter; however, when you take into account those that cannot afford a doctor and those that do not report it, that number is guaranteed to be Much, Much higher. Is it lack of sunlight? Some of it, but certainly not most. Let’s break it down a bit…
Halloween is the last “fun” holiday in fall, and while it does come with a price tag (depending on the age and tastes of the child, or adult), it is generally looked at as a “free candy” holiday with little stress. After Halloween however, we all know what’s coming…
Thanksgiving… A day spent with family (some, you may not want to see), and eating (comes with its own stresses for those of us already overweight or who are struggling to keep food on the table on a normal day). Turkey day is stressful for a lot of us, for the reasons listed, and for many others. It is estimated that little over half a million US citizens are homeless (this number is probably a low-ball estimate), and while that number may not seem like a lot to you, it is more than half the population of the nearest big city to me, San Jose (just this last winter 14 thousand lost not only their homes, but everything due to flooding there). Most homeless people have nothing to be thankful for, besides being alive and getting fed that day (if they are lucky enough), so that’s depressing. What about the over 42 million people in the US who struggle getting food on the table? These are the people who have jobs and can generally eke out a living, but Thanksgiving for them might be peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (I don’t know about you, but that would depress me). What about those without family? I don’t have a number for this one, but there are plenty of people who have no one else, also depressing. All this before we even get to December (and in an election year the depression numbers go up for those that supported the losing side).
Once Christmas is on the horizon, all bets of “happy” are off. If you somehow manage to keep your cool through November, don’t fret, there is a huge holiday coming that will rob your bank account, dignity, and what’s left of your sanity. Again, roughly 43 million people just can’t “do” Xmas (when you’re unsure if your food will last until the end of the week, presents are definitely out). These are just the numbers for those who struggle with food insecurity and homelessness… There are millions more (again, no firm data) who have the basics covered but cannot afford extras (otherwise known as the middle class). Some people are lucky enough to have credit cards that can be used for Christmas, but will be paying them off for the 1 to 9 months afterwards, just in time to start all over again.
Then we have New Years, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and it all finally comes to a head, with Tax Day (arguably the most stressful day of them all for a lot of people). I don’t know about you, but just thinking about this list makes me want to start chugging booze as soon as I wake up (I feel Really bad for those who can’t even afford that).
Ever notice that most people seem to be happiest during the summer? Is it the sunlight? No, people are just as cranky when it’s too hot as they are when it’s too cold. It’s because summer has no money siphoning holidays. Money, or a lack thereof, is bad for your health! They say “Money can’t buy you happiness”, which is true; but it can alleviate a shit ton of stress in your life that is slowly killing your mind, body and spirit.
In a previous post I mentioned how the holidays are nothing but “consumerism disguised as love”, and I wholeheartedly stand by that. Holidays were never supposed to be about what we could buy for one another. In fact, if you go back far enough in time, almost every major holiday (Xmas, Easter, Halloween, etc) can be traced back to a simple celebration of life or a seasonal change. Even after the new religions incorporated these holidays, they were still not about “stuff”. Our modern day culture, and it alone, is responsible for this shift in holiday traditions.
To that I say, No More! Use your money to buy things when you need them, but only the necessities, and save your hard earned cash for “whatever” else (to buy a house or go on a nice vacation). Live free of the “have and have nots”, who the fuck cares what Joe Shmoe has, when you’re happy and he’s not, see who gets the last laugh; and laugh as often as possible, it’s good for the soul. For those unfortunate enough to be in financial crisis, you can also be happy. Buddhism (I believe) is a religion that shuns materialism to extremes and says that the more you suffer in this life the happier you’ll be in the next (I’m not saying you have to have a religion or get a new one, just pointing out that Buddhist monks are happy people who have practically nothing). Let’s teach our children something new… Something that doesn’t involve money or things. Something that can be shared freely and without cost of any kind…
Love. Pure, unadulterated, genuine, Love.
It is the one thing on Earth that when given, will be given back in kind (sure there will be dicks and haters, but love them more, they need the extra, they did not as a child, or do not now, have enough). Let’s teach the children to be kind, to help each other, to share, to Love; because, one day they will inherit the Earth, and if we don’t teach them now, they are doomed to repeat our mistakes or make them worse.
I will teach my children as best I can, so they can be the stewards of tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to teach my children that being in debt until they die is “normal”. Until they get there, I have my wine… and it’ll have to do!