January can be depressing. Many people get the post-holiday blues.
You have this big long build-up to Christmas that begins in November (which includes Thanksgiving). There's the music, cards, gifts, parties, and food. It's festive and fun. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day you gather with your family. Many people exchange gifts, sing carols and go to church.
The holiday festivities extend for a week into New Year's Day with exchanging gifts, cashing in gift cards and more gatherings and parties. Then the bottom drops out. Everything stops. The music, the gifts, the fun. All of a sudden you wake up and you have to go back to work. And you're 8 pounds heavier than you were a month ago. It's a rude awakening.
What can you do for the post-holiday blues? Someone told me she has a 17-year-old daughter and she has always looked ahead to the next holiday and tried to fill her daughter with anticipation. They prepare for the next high point on the calendar with plans to make special foods, send cards and plan a party.
Valentine's Day being the next holiday, she said her daughter has always loved the celebration of hearts, love and Cupid.
I could try that with my son, who is 4, but I don't think he would appreciate the occasion as much as a teenage girl. For one thing, he isn't in school yet, so he doesn't know about the annual Valentine's Day party grade school kids enjoy that involves heart-shaped cookies, candies and cards.
The cards were always kind of a big deal when I was in elementary school. Mom would take us kids to the store and we would pick out boxes of cards. Most of the boxes had a theme. Mickey Mouse. Minnie Mouse. Superheroes. Cute animals. Girls had their cards and boys had theirs.
One year when I was in fifth or sixth grade I bought gag valentines. They had cartoon drawings of people of various shapes and sizes. I say it like that because these cards included insults about the recipient's weight, looks and strength.
One card showed a man with twig-like arms struggling to lift a set of barbells. Another showed two overweight people eating like there was no tomorrow. Still another made some remark that the person was less than good-looking.
I gave the "fat card" to a chubby boy in my class, who was also known to be a bully now and then (what was I thinking?). The kid came up to me with his valentine and said, "I don't know whether to laugh or hit you." He ended up laughing it off and not resorting to violence.
Looking back, what I did was less than nice to the kids in my class. What attracted me to the cards was not necessarily the jabs, although they were cleverly written in rhyme. It was the cartoons on the cards.
They were done in kind of a 1950s cocktail napkin style of cartooning, if that means anything. They were done in the big nose, big feet style found in "Beetle Bailey" and "Sad Sack," two of my favorites back then. This was only a couple years before I discovered MAD Magazine.
I rediscovered MAD a couple years ago after shunning it for a couple decades for accepting advertisers and printing in color. (I'm not a big fan of change.) I recently found MAD is still funny and still has good cartoons in it, many by the same artists that were there when I started reading MAD.
The humor of MAD today is a little grosser than it was back in my day (pimples exploding in full color), but it still remains topical, parodying everybody and everything for the sake of a good laugh.
And who doesn't need a good laugh between now and the start of spring?
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