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.