I love this time of the year.  I love to shop for presents.  I love giving presents away.  Most of all, I love to see the smiles on my grandchildren’s faces when they open their presents.  With one exception, I scored big this year.  RJ liked his magic set so much that he fell sleep playing with it.  Makenzie keeps her Cocomelon doll close to her at all times.  I also love giving educational toys. STEM products are fantastic.

My one big flop was the kitchen sprout garden.  I thought it would be great if my grandkids could plant seeds, nurture them and watch them grow into edible food.  Upon opening the sprout garden, Mackenzie stated, “That’s not very exciting!” Hopefully, as they grow into delicious, healthy snacks, she’ll change her opinion.

The main reason I love the Chanukah/Christmas season is that, most years, people are nice to each other. People hold doors open for you, are much less likely to cut you off in the parking lot or break into line at checkout.  You even catch people whistling to the music playing overhead.  Unfortunately, the joy of the holidays only lasts 3 weeks, then people go back to being grumpy as they return presents that weren’t very exciting.

There is a dark side to the giving season.  As a practicing physician, I treated a fair amount of holiday depression.  While I expected that those individuals living in poverty or from paycheck to paycheck would be more likely to deal with holiday depression, I soon found out that well-to-do individuals were just as likely, if not more likely, to deal with holiday depression.

One of my most interesting cases was a gentleman I saw for depression with suicidal thoughts.  This individual had a 6-figure job, a loving family and lived in a beautiful neighborhood in a high-end community.  Believe or not, his depression was triggered by an advertisement for a car.  My patient felt like a failure because he could not afford to buy his wife a Lexus with a bow on the roof. 

I’ve already explained why I love this time of the year.  Now, let me tell you what I dislike about this time of the year.  Being bombarded by commercials telling you what you should buy your loved ones or what they should buy you is harmful.  I imagine that this year holiday depression will be worse than usual as Covid has impacted so many households.

If you are feeling depressed, talk to your family, your friends or your doctor.  Don’t try to hide it or live with it!  Work on your blessings list and study it daily.  Turn off the TV and don’t read the internet ads that flood your inbox.  If you haven’t noticed, I write about my ups and downs on this blog.     In return, I get a lot of support from friends, former patients and family.  I have a large support group and you can join it at any time.  I think you’ll find that you aren’t alone. 

Let this holiday season be your best.  Be happy and healthy and realize that it’s not what you give that’s important.  Simply put, the act of giving is what counts, even if it’s just a hug, a kiss and a happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas!

Here’s your music and a joke.

My mother once gave me two sweaters for Hanukkah.

The next time we visited, I made sure to wear one. As we entered her home, instead of the expected smile, she said, “Aaron, what’s the matter? You didn’t like the other one?”

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