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Happiest Month of the Year and Most Depressing?

Monday 18 June 2018 at 8:14 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for June 14, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            Is it just me, or do other people characterize months, too? I mean, like thinking of January as the “Let-Down” month, because it follows the “Everybody’s-Happy” month of December. To me, there are a number of “Blah” months, February being the main one. Because of the great weather in Texas in October, that month is on the top of my “Happy” list.

            Then there’s June, our current month. For me, it’s always been the “Depressing” month. First of all, it’s usually the month when temperatures start climbing into the 90’s with high humidity after a rather pleasant spring, and that was especially bad in the old days when we didn’t have air-conditioning. It’s also the first month of the hurricane season, when worry-warts like me hear and read the dire storm predictions and turn on our worry meter!

            Strangely enough, I have always thought I was the only one who felt June was a downer and was convinced that everybody thought winter was the most depressing time of year. Not so, says an article in Psychology Today, entitled “Summer Is the Most Depressing Time of Year.” The article mentions heat and humidity and longer days and envy of others who go on exotic vacations when you can’t. Apparently my characterizations are not as unique as I think.

            A recent study showed that December was the happiest month of the year for most people, and August and September, the saddest. Another study showed that January was considered the most depressing month of the year, but sometimes depending on the year. Polls, of course, prove nothing.

            These studies were done in the United States, with the results of those done in Europe a little different. For example, in Texas, July isn’t very popular because of the incredibly intense heat, while in France, it’s unpopular because it’s the rainiest month of the year.

            During my childhood years, growing up in Dime Box, June, for me, was the “Depressing” month, because school was just out, and my mother seemed happily primed to think up all the loathsome work she could find for my brother and me to do, such as cleaning out the chicken houses and coating the inside walls with creosote, not to mention shoveling fresh manure out of the cow pen. As a nerdy kid who loved books, school, and school work, June meant homework-withdrawal pangs and anti-work allergies. And a long wait for September.

            In those early days, June did mean cake and ice cream and a few gifts for my twin and me as we celebrated together our joint birthday. In later years, I wanted to forget having birthdays, and now, this month, turning 84, “celebrating” my birthday doesn’t stop it from being the “Depressing” month (though I should be happily astonished I lived this long). Among other things, my birthday is a day I remember my twin who died 15 years ago. That’s kind of bitter-sweet, as I remember the good times we had together and the funny, crazy things we did as kids, while at the same time missing him.

             As a child, like most people in the studies mentioned, I have to admit that December was my “Happiest” month, -- mainly because of a child’s hassle-free enjoyment of Christmas, and the fact that everyone always seemed to be in a better mood during the whole month. As a grownup and a pastor, I found December to be, not the “Depressing” month, but the “Harried” month, with the extra Advent and Christmas services, the gift-buying frenzy, and the social obligations creating a sense of perpetual exhaustion. Easter, for Christians, is supposed to be the most joyful day of the year, but it was long ago supplanted by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What should be and what is are not always the same thing.

            Studies and polls aside, the idea of characterizing months as Happy, Depressing, Unpleasant, etc., is subject to too many variables to produce general conclusions. To be sure, my “Most Depressing” month might be your “Happiest,” – and that’s this year; next year the characterizations could be different. And that’s OK; it’s just life.


Ray Spitzenberger is a retired college speech and English teacher and a retired Lutheran pastor.

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