Today has been declared, by the media, academics and general punditry, to be the saddest day of the year. The fact that I smell a bit like a wet dog on the crowded commuter rail on my first day back to work from what was a very productive staycation so that I can attend four mind-numbing yet aneurism producing meetings, would seem to support the saddest day assertion. Today is the day we experience the monday blues; the return to work life that we have managed to avoid the last few weeks. Apparently in the United Kingdom it is a day when a higher percentage of divorce proceedings are started. I suppose, in that vein, it is a day of reflection for many.
Yet January 6, hasn’t uniformly always been the saddest day. Back in the day, of say the middle ages, many a king was anointed on this day. Harold II was crowned king of England in 1066. Philip of Swabia was crowned king of the Romans in 1205 and so forth. More recently, in 1912, New Mexico became a state bringing us the glory of Roswell. January 6 is also a day of epiphany and spiritual celebration. In my Puerto Rican household today is the “Dia de Los Reyes” -Three Kings day. How can a day to honor wis men and that essentially serves as an extension of the Christmas gift-giving, be depressing?
Unfortunately, January 6 also has some bad mojo and history. First off, back in 1974, the US switched to a longer daylight savings time prolonging our time in the dark and gray days. That’s enough to make many a folk depressed. Second, back in 1838, the first public display of the telegraph was conducted. Now this is great step overall ushering a new realm of communications. But look at us now. We are constantly tied to our phones, not so much to even talk to each other, but to answer work emails, post our latest selfie in an instant, brag about our latest accomplishment on Facebook with supposed friends that we may or may not remember, and go off on a rant in twitterverse. January 6 ushered a new form of communication and we’ve come a long way, but I cant help but think of how some of these communication mechanisms actually serve to create more distance and can heighten a sense of envy, anger and overall sadness. Many claim to have quit Facebook because it made them depressed to read all their supposed friends’ accomplishments. Facebook seems to instill a sense of upward comparisons that is not too healthy. Third, there seems to be a heightened sense of competition that is taken to the extreme at times. On January 6, 1994 there was the knee-crack heard around the world or so the media hype led us to believe. On that day figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s knee was given a beat down by individuals associated with her fellow American competitor Tonya Harding. I’m pretty sure they both dread January 6 since they are continuously asked to relive that day. Regardless, January 6 can serve as a reminder of the ugliness of competition at all costs. Fourth, on January 6 2013, President Obama returned from his Hawaiian vacation to tackle the realities of his new Presidential term. January was seen at that time as rife with opportunities. Since then January was labeled as the kindest month for Obama in 2013. Although Beyonce lip synced and presented a moment of fakeness at the inauguration, January had promised real hope going forward. Then the rest of the year happened and nothing got done in politics. Hope dissipated more so every day with the morning sun. Sometimes January can be seen as so promising and so full of hope and soon-to-be achieved goals. Then it goes downhill. A divided government most definitely doesn’t help with that. January can be a bit of a downer. Yet, it need not be.
On this day in 1941, US President Roosevelt gave his famous speech outlining the freedoms that we still hold onto deep within our collective being: freedom of speech and expression, the freedom of people to worship God in their own way; freedom from want; and freedom from fear. We should not be afraid of January 6. We should embrace this day.
Let’s look at this another way. There are 359 days left in 2014. If today is indeed the saddest day, you have 359 days in which to feel happier. Got to always look at the bright side of life. So, here is to january 6th being the saddest day. I cheer to us getting the saddest day over with quickly in the year and that we can move on to happier days ahead!