With 2012 now in official residence, you once again find yourself facing the annual challenge of surviving the post Christmas winter. More than any other time in the twelve month cycle, this time constitutes the most severe anti-climax in the societal vibe. So if you find yourself feeling a little deflated, you shouldn't be afraid to say so. After all, only a lucky few escape the January blues.
New Year's Day was the end of any fleeting attempt to hold onto the notion that you're still on holidays. You dug through the memories of New Year's Eve, wondering how you managed to spend so much money on those extra drinks that you really didn't need. You may have a few more days before you go back to work, college or the day to day struggle of unemployment. But it was in the scant daylight of January 1 that you realised that the holiday bubble had burst.
As the Christmas lights are taken down over the grey streets of your town, you may find yourself wondering what you should do now. And who could blame you? You've just spent three months being bombarded by the relentless commercialism of the holiday season, and now you find that previously championed items of materialism can be yours at a lesser expense to your volatile finances. But they don't seem so alluring anymore. Not without all the tinsel and jingle bell music. Indeed, with the woes of economic illness now firmly established, “January Sales” sounds more like the last desperate plea of a consumerism that can't accept that it's had its day.
Already the terms “downturn” and “debt crisis” are resuming their premier positions in the dreary news bulletin. Google isn't tracking Santa's sleigh anymore and dog pounds are being filled with pooches suffering the consequences of people's failure to grasp the age old proverb that begins with “A puppy isn't just for..”
Your emigrant friends have returned to the places that they spent most of Christmas describing to you with a wondrous glow in their eyes. “There's no place like home” now reads like some kind of disingenuous jibe that mocks the precarious foundations of your speculative career path. In destitute January, you may feel like you have more in common with the recent hysterics of the North Koreans than those few lucky enough to have the elusive “plan”.
In the next few days, you will find yourself reacquainting with people somehow absent from your Christmas mingling. Most of them will probably tell you they had a “quiet one”, conjuring up images of them sipping on a solitary glass of wine beside their modest Christmas tree. Those people were way too sensible to have gotten themselves involved in the spendthrift shenanigans of your hazy holiday. You wish you had their foresight.
Others will approach the new year under the desperate guise of “keeping the best side out”. They'll be all smiles and chat, informing you of their “wonderful” Christmas. They'll have probably got a new pair of jogging runners, complimented by a “really handy” new contraption to strap their ipod into. You'll be hard pressed to hear any “negative” (to you: honest) words from their mouths. Instead they'll be coping with the January blues contented in the knowledge that the new “The Secret” book has instructed them to think positively all the way to the promised land. You won't be able to relate to these people. Not because you don't appreciate the power of positive thinking, it's just that anyone who's fooled themselves into being positive at this time of year is clearly best left to themselves.
If you're lucky though, someone will be honest enough to tell you that they're feeling just as blue as you. Together, with an "all you can do is laugh" attitude, you will share the way through this miserable experience. Who knows, you might even enter into a pact, whereby you hold each other accountable for doing something just a little better than 2011. And then, as January changes to February, and the ones who had a “quiet Christmas” crumble under the boredom of their self-imposed sanctuary, and the “positive” fetishists succumb to the absurdity of their naive faith, life may seem that little bit more tolerable.