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Holiday Blues

By Jay Thomas Willis

Senior Columnist and Political Analyst

Mid-South Tribune and Black Information Highway

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are times when many people get depressed. There are numerous articles and stories written about such depression. Many people attempt suicide, and some are successful. It is said that some people get depressed over thinking about the way things once were, feeling they will never be that way again. So they get down in spirit, feeling they have no further reason to live. These individuals feel bad for having strayed away from such a happy childhood. Some get depressed just thinking about their whole life, feeling things wonít ever improve for them.

            The closer it gets to Christmas the more I tend to think about my childhood, but only for brief periods of time. Christmas causes me to reflect on all my childhood, not just the holidays. Then I quickly revive myself, put on a smooth jazz CD, have a glass of wine, eat some good food, and get on with the holiday merriments. I donít allow myself to get depressed. Besides things are better for me now than they ever were as a child. My whole life hasnít been that bad, but I have nothing to reminisce about the good old days of childhood. Some people had it so good in childhood that everything else is uphill.

            I do think about that little unpainted-shotgun shack sitting on a farm in a lonesome corner of East Texas. How the house barely stood on its rock foundation. A strong wind could be felt through the cracks in the walls, and it was cold in winter and hot in summer. The rats ran through the walls with impunity, keeping us awake at night. The chickens, ducks, guinea fowls, dogs, pigs, and other animals walked through the yard leaving their droppings. There was grunting of the pigs, the crowing of the roosters, the barking of the dogs, and the mooing of the cows. The rain came through the rusty-tin roof, falling on my bed, and everything throughout the house.  I remember that narrow three-mile trail to our house until I entered first grade. There were ditches along the wayóbig enough to hide a house, mud and overflowing streams when it rained, dew in the mornings, and overhanging tree limbs. We did our traveling during the day; no one would dare navigate that trail in the dark. The snakes and other wild animals were numerous. I remember my father getting drunk one Christmas, falling in one of the ditches, and dislocating his shoulder. Some neighbors helped him home the next morning, one of them was even able to straighten out his shoulder. I guess he had a lot to get drunk about, but he never complained about our situation. He did try to get my mother to move to the Gulf Coast where he worked, but she wouldnít hear of it.

            I also recall getting up in the mornings in the excruciating cold to make a fire in the fireplace; and cutting wood to burn in the fireplace and stove. We also killed a hog almost every Saturday before Christmas. These were task I didnít look forward to.

            Few of my relatives came by to visit us on Christmas, especially before the road was constructed. Even when they did I was so use to being alone that I kept out of sight. I didnít get toys for Christmas; usually I got something utilitarian, like a coat, a pair of shoes, a shirt, or some blue jeans. It never bothered me that my brothers and sisters, who were married and away from home, rarely got me a gift, a birthday present, Christmas or birthday card. Most of my brothers and sisters didnít even bother to come home for Christmas. There were ten children in our family, but most of us were alienated from one another. We were a multi-problem family.

            I recall after the road was built, and the red-dusty road that resulted. In winter it would be muddy, and in summer it would be dry and dusty. There were uneven and bumpy places in the road as well. I never will forget the time my mother and I were on our way to church, and the car got stuck in about a foot of red mud.

I also donít remember anything positive for me going on in the school or in the community. The one bright spot was when my brother, John, came home for several years. He taught me how to drive, bought me what I needed, took me places I wanted to go, and encouraged me in school. He also later bought me a car. I feel his buying me that car helped to save my life. It got me out of my isolation, and gave me a bit of socialization into mainstream society. Though it was a bit late, I hate to think what kind of person I would have become had I stayed back in those woods all those years without transportation.

            I think about these things momentarily during the holidays, and realize that things are much better for me rather than having gotten worse. I think about my childhood and say, ďThank God. Iím happy to be able to get beyond that situation.Ē I realize after doing a bit of thinking that I have nothing to be depressed about. I actually make a conscious attempt to find something to be nostalgic about, but I canít find very much.

            So, I quickly get over any nostalgic tendencies, and find myself counting my blessings for the life I have now. I have little to bemoan myself about for not having accomplished. Think about my childhood the next time you get depressed thinking about your life over the holidays!


The above is on the Black Paper lane on the Black Information Highway and The Mid-South Tribune ONLINE. Mr. Willis is the author of twenty-three books, fifteen professional journal articles, a number of magazine articles, and over 300 newspaper articles. His books can be reviewed at www.jaythomaswillis.com .  Email him at jaytwillis@gmail.com  or MSTnews@prodigy.net or BlackInfoHwy@prodigy.net




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