December Is The Cruelest Month

I think that it was the English poet T.S. Eliot who wrote that “April is cruelest month”. I’m not sure why Mr. Eliot thought that April was so bad, because I haven’t read much of his work. But his statement about April has been so often quoted, that it has lodged in the memory banks of my mind.

In any case, I don’t agree. December is the cruelest month. At least for those of us who live in New England, April has the promise of the warmth and sunlight and green rebirth of a new Spring very soon to arrive. December has the shortest day of the year, and the looming prospect of a very long, cold and dark Winter, that is only just beginning.

And December has Christmas… And even more than the onset of Winter, Christmas makes December the cruelest month. Why? Because the Christmas holiday season expects us all to flip on the “Gawd I’m just sooo happy!” switch. Just because it’s a certain time of year, we’re all supposed to automatically be happy. Never mind if in a painfully recent year we’ve gone through the grief of the death of a dear loved one, and had to preside over a funeral in mid to late December, never mind that – it’s still “the most wonderful time of the year!” And never mind those grief stricken memories – you are expected to feel happy during the Christmas season, no matter what.

Never mind if the entire Christmas season is first and foremost about spending money and buying things… and you have no job. And not only do you have no job, but you have barely enough money to keep a roof over your head and food on the table… and toys for your kids aren’t even close to being affordable. But be happy anyway! Because it’s almost Christmas, and it’s “the most wonderful time of the year!” This time of year, your TV, your radio, and your computer will remind you multiple times a day, that you should be out there buying gifts! But what if you have no money for gifts? What if you have no money to buy toys for your kids? Hey, it’s still “the most wonderful time of the year!” And you should be happy! What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you happy?

And what if you’re all alone? What if you’re old and lonely, and nobody seems to care anymore whether you even exist? What if you have no close family anymore, and what if you’re facing another Christmas Day all alone and without any family to be there with you, during “the most wonderful time of the year”.

Just why is it, the most wonderful time of the year? Because it’s the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Christ? Is that it? Is that what millions of advertising dollars spent by the retail industry during the most wonderful time of the year, are spent to promote?

I don’t think so… and that is why December is the cruelest month.



About Chris Sheridan

I’m a 56 year old guy who is young (and immature) at heart, and I love humor and laughter. Married for 22 years, but still enjoy all the glories of womanhood everywhere, even while dedicated to one woman only - and I hope my wife never finds out about her!
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4 Responses to December Is The Cruelest Month

  1. Commercialized… I always think of Snoopy in Charlie Brown’s Christmas with his dog house all decorated with gaudy stuff. For me, though, I look forward to Christmas…. In my line of work, this is when we slow down to a near stop. And my family is all a two-days drive away. So… I get to sleep, watch movies, and play on the internet for over a week. Yay!!!

  2. Elyse says:

    You won’t get an argument from me on this issue, Chris. I’m personally happier that Christmas is over. Next month is my birthday, which coincides with the loss of one of my sisters, ( Writing that piece brought me a remarkable amount of peace with both Christmas and my birthday. But I’d still be perfectly happy to do a Rip Van Winkle through December and January each year!

    Thanks for sending me into the way back machine.

    • Just finished replying to your linked post and… it kinda wiped me out. Just too evocative of our family’s history of repeated tragedy around Christmas, but that’s my problem and not yours, since you seem to deal with it better than I do. But I’m glad that you could find some peace through writing this post, and my heart goes out to you for what I know you’ve been through. After reading the history of your family’s Christmas and holiday connection with tragedy and reflecting on my family’s similar experience, I just have to ask you this. Do you ever ask God or the Universe, or the nearest brick wall, WHY??? Why has this happened so many times, this time of year?!

      I know there’s no point in asking WHY? because there will never be an answer to that question, but every Christmas season I can’t help asking WHY??? at least once or twice, and the answer is always the same answer – There is no answer. It just happened, and there’s no one in charge who was responsible for me to confront and demand an explanation, as I let loose some serious anger.

      After my brother Dan lost his daughter 5 days before Christmas, I refused to celebrate Christmas or to even acknowledge it’s existence in any way, for the next 3 years – and yes, I know it’s irrational to boycott a Holiday because I’m very angry with it. I was going to boycott Christmas for a 4th straight year, but my best friend, who is Jewish talked me out of it. I was spending Christmas at his place as I had the three previous years, while the rest of my family “celebrated” Christmas. My Jewish friend got a small tree that he set up in his apartment with Christmas lights and decorations, and he bought several joke gifts and wrapped them with paper and ribbons.

      Thanks to him, we even had a Christmas dinner of baked chicken with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies. And after dinner we watched a Christmas porn video with male porn star Ron Jeremy in it. Why? Because Ron Jeremy was not just a porn star, but this delightfully weird hybrid of porn star and the second coming of Groucho Marx, who could ad lib a steady stream of really funny one liners while also doing what male porn stars normally do.

      My friend and I laughed like fools throughout the video, Jewish friend gave me the gift of one of my best Christmases ever. He seemed to understand that although I had no clue, that I needed to celebrate Christmas that year, and I’d be more miserable without it, and he was right. I’m actually feeling a lot better now after recounting the story of the year that a Jew gave me the gift of Christmas, and included the gift of happiness and laughter for a holiday that I had become bitter and angry with, and suffered through with a sense of grief and heartache, while cut off from any hope for happiness and laughter. Life is a mystery…

      • Elyse says:

        I spent years being miserable around holidays. Paranoid whenever anyone had a sniffle around a holiday. Seriously — I would become short of breath, couldn’t sleep. Ate too much, drank too much. Hid from my husband and my son who only wanted to make me happy.

        And then on a random Tuesday, my eldest sister Beth died. She had been sick, but she took a quick turn for the worse. I managed to make it to her bedside in time. She and I used to laugh at the constant deaths on holidays, and my fears. “I promise I won’t die on a holiday, Lease” she’d say. She didn’t. It was a random Tuesday, August 11.

        And you know what? It still sucked. It is the hype that is Christmas that makes the others painful. The shared memories. The fact that as you pointed out, December is supposed to be a time of joy. Only for more people than not, it is a stark reminder of who is and who is not with them to celebrate. It smacks us with what we’ve lost. It is salt on a wound we thought long healed. But those wounds never really heal, do they. They open up regularly.

        BTW, my sister Judy did not actually die ON my birthday, although I wrote it up that way (Literary license — sue me!). I learned that she had died as we were going out to celebrate because my birthday was on the following Tuesday. It was my birthday when I flew to her funeral from Geneva. Everybody I had to deal with along the way looked at my passport said “Happy Birthday! Are you traveling to be with Family?????” It was truly the worst day of my entire life.

        Oh dear, I got off on a tangent, there, didn’t I. I blame you, Chris!

        Seriously, though, I think that there are horrible things that happen to us all. We can learn to live with them or let them eat at us until we rot. I’ve done it both ways, and with the help of that post, Both Sides Now, I was able to fight off some of the demons.

        I hope that soon you will be able to do that, too. Because these demons of ours are not friends.

        , and I’m not making this this up

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