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The Sun Also Rises
The Standard-Journal, December 17, 1998
The holidays are upon us: a time of merriment, festive lights... and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As Steve Martin says in the movie Mixed Nuts, people get more depressed around the winter holidays because they expect more. On the days when we’re supposed to celebrate and be merry, any hardship seems that much worse.
Too often, instead of being a time of celebration, the holidays become a time of tragedy. That seems to be the time that, if it’s going to happen, your husband will leave, your long-term girlfriend will break up with you, your grandmother will die, your pet be killed by a truck, your water shut off, your job lost.
Of course, these things happen all year round. But when they happen near the winter holidays, they take on more massive importance.
An important lesson can be drawn from both Mixed Nuts and the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. The lesson is this: Life, even at its most terrible, is worth living.
Today, your boyfriend might leave you. Tomorrow you might meet your true soul mate. Today, you might lose your job. Tomorrow a friend might take you on a trip across country. Today, you might break an ankle. Tomorrow you might get a call from a long lost friend. Life is a roller coaster, a series of ups and downs. You never know what’s around the next turn, but one thing is certain. If one part of your life sinks, another will rise.
Another lesson to draw from both films is also simple: pay attention to what you’ve got. Chances are, as some parts of your world crumble around you, other parts will remain firm. If you feel abandoned, depressed or dejected, talk to a friend. Talk to your family. Talk to co-workers. Amazingly enough, they may be supportive, too. Soon you’ll find yourself buoyed by a life raft of support.
If your problems are severe, don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. A clergy member, doctor, psychiatrist or helpline can help you work through your grief or depression.
Ironically, as terrible as it seems for tragedies to happen this time of year, it’s also the best time, in a way. At this time of year, sharing and caring abound. Total strangers might notice a tear and stop to cheer you up. The “angels” who stay with us and guide us are particularly active near the holidays. If you open your eyes, you’ll find bright lights and festive occasions and love.
As bad as it might be right now, it will get better. Live in the present, not in the past, and soon you’ll find your present is growing brighter all the time. Trust me. I’ve been through it, too.