Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression? 

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Depression on My Mind

Ever notice that the great holiday classic are about depression?

There’s George Bailey, the financially strapped father of a posse of rowdy kids in It’s a Wonderful Life. Then there’s Scrooge and the Grinch. And how about that Santa-denying mother in Miracle on 34th Street? Charlie Brown and his pathetic little tree.
Let’s not forget The Littlest Angel, a story about a little boy who dies, goes to heaven, can’t keep his halo on straight, can’t sing on key with the seraphim and misses his dog? Then there is that country western song little boy who want to buy his dying mama a pair of shoes. We have Elvis’ Blue Christmas and Do They Know It’s Christmas about people starving in Africa.

If you have depression like me, you’re probably already dealing with your own Christmas drama. The last thing you need is to watch a drunk father jump off a bridge on Christmas Eve. But there are lessons to be learned from these poor souls and how they pulled through.

They found gratitude. George Bailey’s gratitude came from seeing what the world would  have been like had he not been born. Scrooge’s gratitude came in a dream, when he saw how his selfishness infected those who crossed his path and how he still had a chance to change.

These are all stories of hope and gratitude – two of the most powerful antidotes to depression. For me, antidepressants are necessary and easy but they don’t give me hope and gratitude. That’s an inside job. The antidepressants give me the ability to feel hope and gratitude but I must do the footwork and find it.

This has been a particularly difficult holiday season for me. Hope and gratitude have not come easily for me. I have had to search for it. I finally found it last weekend when I got off my pity pot and volunteered at a local bike charity, that gave away of 900 bicycles to kids who probably aren’t going to have much else under their trees.

Those three short hours of watching kids pick out the bike of their dreams filled me with hope and gratitude – hope that there still is big beautiful world out there and gratitude that I had been relieved of the bondage of my sadness.
I wish I could tell you that there’s an angel who will lift you out of your black hole. I wish Santa could take away your pain with a present under the tree. But this is real life – not the movies. Depression is real. But if we take our medications and do some footwork, we just might find some hope and gratitude.

For me this holiday season, that’s all I really want.

About Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a reporter for The Palm Beach Post for 29 years and in 2006, began writing a column.

Source: Why are all the great Christmas classics about depression? | Depression on My Mind

Praise Our Chosen Family!

From “On Being” with Krista Tippett

In Praise of Chosen Family


Kate is one of the first friends that I feel like I actually chose. I’d see her walking around campus, her thick, dark hair curling up around her headphones, her head bobbing. She was a DJ at the college radio station. She was in my human rights class with the ancient and erudite Professor Juviler.

She sat with a group of girls in the cafeteria who exuded a bravado that I craved as I sat with my calorie-counting crew. I admired her from a safe distance for a while, suspicious that I was probably too earnest for her. Then, one day, with my adolescent esteem on some erratic upswing, I decided to email her. I told her that she was amazing and that I wanted to be her friend. Talk about earnest.

To my surprise, she wrote back. We started hanging out. Fifteen years later, we trade late-night pep talk texts when sleep evades our baby daughters, problem shoot long writing projects, and take sun-dappled walks around Lake Merritt to hash the world out side by side.

It seems like a good moment to pause in praise of our chosen family, otherwise known as our friends.

imageCredit: Ewan McDowall License: Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

The holidays can be a wonderful, horrible time for many people. We are reminded — over gelatinous fruitcake, no less — that, though we love our families, we may not always like our families. We frequently don’t see eye to eye — a life-giving force if we have the wherewithal to explore it. They often can’t give us what we need, whether that’s praise or space or just the simplest of utterances: I’m proud of you, I see you, I love you.

This is the nature of growing up and growing away, of being someone who sheds some legacies while embracing others, of turning a critical, albeit compassionate, eye on our origins. As common as it is, it never gets any less complicated. In part, this is because it’s not something to be solved. Instead, it’s an eternal equation (subtract an expectation here, add a realization here).

As a result, a lot of us swig some pretty hard serenity with our eggnog this time of year. And, of course, the holidays can be an even more difficult time for those who don’t have the profound gift of a family to fight with. Which is why it’s such an outrageous blessing to have the opportunity to choose our friends. In fact, I believe it’s one of the most important skills we can cultivate in a child — the ability to know how to feel out who we want to be friends with and initiate and cultivate relationships. Here’s hoping you have more subtle skills than my own dorky emails.

imageCredit: Bas Rogers License: Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

But “cool” is not really the point here. We spend so much of our lives trying to impress people we don’t actually respect — deliberately making friends with people that we deeply admire, people that make us laugh our asses off, people that push us to be more ourselves, is an under-appreciated and radical act in this culture of performance and reverence for the wrong gods (effortless perfection and exacting efficiency, to name a couple).

The idea that I could actually choose my friends came surprisingly late in life. As a girl growing up in a tight-knit community, I saw friends as inherited, almost like family: the girl on my lacrosse team, the boy who lived down the street, the son of my mom’s best friend.

Maybe, when we’re young, this is true. We don’t have the same kind of independence or capacity for initiation as we do later on. And many of these inherited friends are lovely, sometimes even the ones we would have chosen, had we had the chance. (For the luckiest among us, family members are actually the ones we would have chosen, too.)

imageCredit: Shira Bea Cawaling License: Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

At a certain point, at least among the happiest people I know, we start to get really intentional about who we surround ourselves with. We grow unsatisfied with inheritance, with the sense that our friends are “happening to us.” We realize that we have been neglecting one of our most thrilling powers. We stop hanging out with people that make us feel like shit, just because we had the same first job at that bizarre summer camp. We have passionate friend crushes that make life infinitely more interesting.

It is our families that shape us from the very beginning, but it is our friends that truly define us down the road. They are the ones we get to invite into our lives.

So now that the family circus is over for another season and you’re turning your attention to the beginning of a new year, consider this for a resolution: become a fierce talent scout of amazing friends. Make your crew your finest act of curatorial courage. Just as many wise spiritual teachers have argued that our thoughts beget our actions, I would argue that our friends beget our culture. They become the force we measure ourselves against, the source of so much of our joy and courage. They are our respite, and our welcomed responsibility. And all that choosing makes for a very rich life.

imageCredit: John Fraissinet License: Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


COURTNEY E. MARTIN is an author, entrepreneur, and speaker.