I recently read some literature that disproved the notion that suicide rates increase during the holiday season. That is all fine and good, but I did some soul searching walking home from work 12/23 about why I suddenly felt depressed and out of touch with the holidays this year.

NYC is beautiful when all lit up in holiday cheer. The strange thing about happiness all around is that it can contribute to making someone who is lonely or depressed even more lonely or depressed.

There were a few ways this year that I could have done to avoid this mini-depression that hit me. I could have gone out more with my friends, I could have gone on some dates to experience the holiday spirit-even just walks or a cup of coffee.

The other day my sister and I went out with my friend and a girl he was trying to help find a job. Just walking around was refreshing, even though by then the snow had turned ashy. The bottom line is that I only walked out like this once-on this day-from Thanksgiving until I went home to see my parents on Christmas Eve. I have to ask myself why I only took one walk like this in five weeks.

Remember the Grinch, when the narrator tries to analyze why he was so mean:
A. Shoes Too tight
B. Head Not Screwed on Right
C. Heart two sizes too small

I did the same reasoning in my mind on my way home from work that day, and came up with the following:

A. Recession - there were fewer parties and festivities this year and it must have been a product of the tough financial times. People stayed in and found different ways to entertain themselves. I didn't see enough of my friends, and when that happens I start feeling lonely and depressed.

B. Lost Romantic Hopes- In all this jadedness, I have gotten more and more surprised when things actually work out. The idea of stringing a number of consistent, fun, dates with someone I really enjoy being with seems so far away right now. So why try? But this is particularly painful during the holidays when I want to be close to someone.

C. Great Expectations- As the holidays approach I set the bar so high: we'll all party together, see the sites, do amazing things. I'll even find someone to date. It will be all smiles, and it will be perfect.

Do I suffer from striving for perfection in every facet of dating: the perfect girl, the perfect date, the perfect holiday season? With this high bar, it makes it hard to ever be happy. I set goals that are impossible to reach, and then-when I can't reach them-I just shut down.

So, my mood was rescued a bit by seeing my nieces and their enjoyment of the holidays. For them, it was magical. They expected magic, and they got it. If I could bottle up some of this gift that my nieces have and take it back to NYC with me, I would. In the world of a child, disappointment is so rare. Adulthood just feels like disappointment every day when the mind is not well.

It helps that New Year's is coming up. I actually never expect much from New Year's, so it doesn't ever disappoint, and it lets me say:

"You have a whole new year to fulfill your dreams."

But I have to stop saying: "get 'em next year," and start saying "seize the day."

I think that finding love and happiness is dependant on taking care of the things you can take care of: making ends meet, improving yourself, doing something productive every day, getting out there and having fun and meeting people, and seeing your friends and family. Take control of those things, and maybe the "magic" will start finding you, or you will feel less disappointed in things day-to-day.

And perhaps there is something to be said for not expecting magic every time you go on a date with a new person. Maybe it is fair for me to expect magic from the holidays every year, but not fair for me to expect magic on every date.

How were the holidays for you all this year in love and life? Did you have trouble getting into the spirit, or do you always find a way to be happy around the holidays?

What Do You Think?