While Father (Mother) Christmas jingle bells are all around us, spreading sweetness and good cheer, there is never a more opportune period of the year for the black dog’s depression to jump over your fence. The reasons are probably, but not only, that somehow, the December month is a time for expectation totally divorced and away from previous months. This is because of some tradition steeped in history that tells us we ought to feel different, a kind of ‘happiness’ difference.
That this December linked Christmas history is tainted with religious fantasy and fairy tales including a baby born out of wedlock AND from a virgin, animals chewing their cud while breathing over this just born baby in a manger on straw AND inside a cave, plus three kings following a fallen star doesn’t help keeping sanity amongst those with already frayed nerves. If anything, those ridiculous fantasies should have been ditched long ago. No wonder so many feel mentally disheveled when the world relishes in regaling that same sort of nonsense, year in year out.
We have plodded on reasonably well during the previous eleven months but when December comes around, there seeps into one’s conscience, imperceptibly at first, expectations that things will become better or happier, or at least different…It might well be prudent to let skepticism take a seat at the turkey/ ham-loaded Christmas table. What sort of feast is this period supposed to be about? How much is this period a result of unreal expectations, totally divorced from the rest of the year. We sent cards to those we haven’t even seen during the year. The shops are chockers with things we and everybody else already have and our gas bill is six weeks overdue… Do we really think that a high-pressure water cleaner from Bunning’s is an appropriate present for someone? How do you wrap it?
Sure, the children love magic (and presents) but we are adults and supposedly firmly in control. Why, with the shops closed for just one day for Christmas, do we load up with food and hoard larders full as if it is going to be rationed? Do we scurry into bunkers next, has war broken out? Why do we start increasing our speed when walking through the aisles of Big W or Coles? I saw a woman running through the margarine division of Aldi’s today, followed hot on the heels by a screaming toddler. Why? Are there sirens blaring out next? Should the State Emergency crowd be called in and should we all carry crow bars around? What is all that nervousness about? Of course, the black dog will sniff about. They smell our neurosis. Don’t make eye contact with it. Especially don’t stoop down at his level and don’t even think of patting or stroking.
At the bank yesterday there it all was, a perfect opportunity for letting the black dog inside again. The queue was long and as if that wasn’t enough there was a looped tape playing over and over again “Rudolf, the red nosed reindeer”, and, to top it off, “Holy night”. It was bad enough for the customers but imagine the effect on staff? On top of the music, staff had to accept the ignominy of wearing floppy red hats with white tussles for two weeks. It would be almost impossible for anyone to survive that level of idiocy. One would be sorely tempted to invite or adopt a real black dog, especially a kelpie or friendly Border collie.
Of course, there are those who, having been dealt a rough card in life, do feel this silly period more keenly than others. It’s not helpful that society is so focused on success and that failures are so often put at the feet of those unfortunate souls that haven’t followed societies ideals of ‘individual responsibility’ and’ individual efforts’ without realizing that not everyone dances to the same beat of the drum. There are those who feel that the beat of our drum is too monotonous and boring, they reject societies notions of being successful.
Perhaps, if we really want to spread Christmas cheer we could do a bit better in the gift box of tolerance and acceptance. There are those that missed out on the luck or opportunity for personal success or finding happiness and reasonable contentedness. Perhaps there were other variances that caused their lives not to turn out as well as they anticipated when young. Those plagued with mental illness have been dealt the roughest card of all to deal with. The black dog amongst those unfortunate people often roams around sniffing and snarling at the heels and will take every opportunity to attack.
So, while slicing the turkey or ham, opening the chardonnay, spare a thought for those battling with ‘black dog’. Help them, and take the black mongrel back to the pound.