Suicide rates are allegedly the highest of the year during the holidays. Winter’s shorter daylight hours afflict people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (*). Elvis Presley sings about having “a blue Christmas without you.” These conditions, the unfortunate by-product of such a happy time, should be taken seriously. Yet no one ever talks about the hidden epidemic. No one ever talks about… THE CHRISTMAS BENDS.
What’s that you say? You don’t know about the Christmas Bends?! Yes, you do. You just don’t know it by that name, mostly because I just invented it (shhhh). As with the diagnosis of any major outbreak, I’m sure your minds are racing with questions — What is this ailment? What are its causes and symptoms? Can it be treated? Can it be cured?! And what medical pedigree gives you (meaning me) the right to educate the public about such a devastating contagion?
Full disclosure #1: I’m not an M.D. I’m not even a WebM.D. I’ve never gone to med school or taken the hippopotas oath. To paraphrase Leonard McCoy, “Damn it, man. I’m not a doctor, I’m a pop culture connoisseur!” And that should be pedigree enough.
Taking a page out of The New England Journal of Medicine, let us examine the pandemic in question, shall we?
THE CHRISTMAS BENDS
(With or without a history of Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shopping disorders.)
Post-Holiday Rapid Decompression Sickness. Cultural holidays known to trigger this illness include Halloween, Festivus, and St. Patrick’s Day, but none more so than Christmas.
A holiday decompression sickness generated by a Christmas reveler’s high-pressure festive environment shifting much too quickly to an environment of non-festive traits.
This results in a shock to the system akin to “The Bends,” the deadly ailment wherein a deep-sea diver’s meteoric rise to the ocean surface creates bubbles in their bloodstream as gases in pressurized form revert to their natural state.
The Christmas Bends are just like that. Minus all the deadly bubble bloodstream stuff.
Society’s commercialized need to kick off the Christmas season earlier and earlier each year (much like Hollywood’s summer movie season) and then abruptly ending it all on December 26th.
Unseasonable non-White Christmas weather, particularly affecting displaced Bostonians in ridiculously sunny Southern California where the current temperature is 15-20 degrees above normal for “winter.”
Radio stations and department stores that play nothing but Christmas carols for a month and then suddenly snap back to regular music before the figgy pudding has been served.
Mild depression. Irritability. Applying sunblock on Christmas morning.
- Convince all Christmas-celebrating religions, First World countries, and Hallmark Greeting Cards that it’s healthier to detox the holiday from our collective system in moderation rather than quitting “cold turkey.”
- End global warming.
In lieu of social upheaval and meteorological miracles, 4 out of 5 holiday experts recommend “faking it.” This involves tricking one’s system into believing Christmas is not immediately over, but rather that it’s gradually phasing out over a period of several weeks (or at least until New Years day).
This placebo effect can be achieved in any number of ways:
- Listen to The 12 Days of Christmas backwards.
- Write a poem entitled The Night After Christmas.
- Downsize Christmas tree to Christmas branch.
- Downsize Christmas branch to Christmas twig.
- Discard Christmas twig.
- Expand T.B.S.’s tradition of airing A Christmas Story 24 hours in a row on December 25th with subsequent airings in daily increments of declining time frames — 20 hours on the 26th, 15 on the 27th, 10 on the 28th, and so on and so forth.
- Post an article on January 3rd about something called the Christmas Bends.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, not everyone is susceptible to the Christmas Bends. Those who aren’t tend to suffer from Pathological Grinchingitis Syndrome, a subset of the Humbug Fever. Or they are Jewish.
For those who are stricken, the prognosis is promising. Society is changing, albeit slowly. As a whole, we are approaching the day when the warm-up to the holiday season is amended with a cool-down of equal proportion. How else does one explain the red and green lights hanging on my white trash neighbor’s house year round?
Until that day, however, victims of this debilitating sickness must learn to cope on their own.
Full disclosure #2: I’m not just an educator of the Christmas Bends. I’m also a survivor. I’ve learned to cope with it and so can you. If that means reading Snowpiercer or attending an air-conditioned matinee of Frozen with other SoCal-based Bostonians then so be it. Don’t let the Christmas Bends cripple you. You cripple them!
(*) Editor’s note: The acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder is S.A.D. Seriously! S.A.D. is the abbreviated name for a form of depression suffered by people in wintertime, thought to be related to lack of sunlight. S.A.D. as in, “It’s sad that winter doldrums depress me.” S.A.D. as in, “Sad is a synonym for depressed.” S.A.D. as in, “I’m already depressed, so no need to rub it in, Captain Obvious!”
Whose idea was this and how did they not notice the problem? You have to think things through when naming diseases. Or naming anything for that matter. Thankfully my parents realized ahead of time that giving me Tom for a middle name would’ve resulted in my initials being S.T.D. Not the best thing when trying to impress the ladies. If my folks can do names right, then so too can the worldwide healthcare community.
I’m just saying.
UP NEXT: 3 is the magic number