Merry and happy dear girlfriends and welcome to the most stressful time of the year. Make no mistake, my cybersisters… I do love me a good retail festival but even I lately have found myself avoiding the shops as if they were a small screaming child. (sorry, I don’t like screaming children- on further thought- I don’t like screaming anything- unless there is a PRADA sale and then- well who can’t help themselves.)
The past few weeks have gotten me asking myself, who but bitchy in the water? No one holds doors open for anyone any more. Walking down Robson street lately is like playing a real life version of retail WHACK A MOLE where people come at you with parcels and packages and you have to avoid being hit by them regularly.
Yes, I know Christmas is an emotional hardship of a holiday. Shopping is polarizing sport. People love it or hate it. That coupled with the judgments of families and friends. It’s a challenging time. Who wants to defend their life choices at a table full of family members for hours on end?
I’m not being a Grinch when I say that perhaps we could tone down the nasty for the next few days? I know we live in a materialistic society- and I’m not suggesting we turn it around- hell I love my closet; but can’t we all, I don’t now… just get along?
Do you remember when we were little and times were so much simpler? Your handbag HAD to match your shoes and your nail polish HAD to match your lipstick. “Please” and “Thank-You” were a given and people were always happy around the holidays. Life was simpler, air was cleaner, and people were nicer, no?
Maybe I just remember it that way. I remember being mesmerized by Charlie Brown Christmas Specials and big trees in malls. I remember how the days always had a little bit more sparkle around their edges. We never celebrated Christmas (and no Hanukah really is not the same) but as an outsider looking in I always thought December was a special time where people seemed more hopeful, and quite frankly… nicer.
Was I just a victim of the marketing ads? Was there really no PEACE ON EARTH, no GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN? I never paused to ask my parents if the times in fact have changed. Maybe it’s just that I’ve grown up and grown a bit cynical. Maybe times in deed were as stressful back then as they are now it is just that I no longer have Charlie Brown to keep me hopeful?
Magazines everywhere talk about the “Christmas Depression” and how the holidays are more stressful and people more likely to have mood disorders and even suicides around this time of year. My VOGUE magazine had always been a source of knowledge but could it finally be speaking my medical language as well? Was CHRISTMAS DEPRESSION in fact a true disease? I wondered....
If in fact this were true than perhaps I was being too hard on my fellow shoppers. They were bitchy for a reason! They had Christmas depression? Mankind was in peril trying to find the perfect sweater set/iPod/perfume gift set for their loved one.
And then I went in search of a real scientific answer.
According to an article published in the JAMA in 1982- this idea of CHRISTMAS DEPRESSION is scientific bullshit. Although anecdotal notions are all about us suggesting that the stress of the holidays impacts peoples' mental well being, the science just does not back it up. There is no such thing in the medical literature as CHRISTMAS DEPRESSION. There is in fact a CHRISTMAS DISEASE but this is a form of hemophilia that has nothing to do with the holiday itself.
Several meta-analysis show that hospital admissions and suicides around this time of year are actually down. Less people visit Emergency rooms and doctors offices around this time of year. Sure you could say that they are all too busy but in my experience as a physician diseases don’t usually wait for you to get your “to do” lists in order before they rear their ugly heads.
Interestingly hospital admissions dramatically climb AFTER the holidays either suggesting that all the self indulgence over Christmas eventually catches up with us or in fact that people now have “the time” to be sick. Not really sure how to navigate that one my girlfriends but I will leave it to you to ponder.
Make no mistake- I do love me a good festive time. But medically speaking there’s no reason to be bitchy especially when gifts are involved. So on this holiday of holidays I say let's just all take it down a notch my sisters… pour yourselves a glass of mulled wine, settle down and let the joy begin.