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James Ferragut, Published January 25 2014

Ferragut: Really, it gets brighter

‘It’s all downhill from this point on because we’ve already hit the peak, we conquered the mountain and we’re riding the slide down to Happy Land.”

According to researchers, the first Monday of the first full week after the holidays is the most depressing day of the year: Black Monday, and it’s easy to understand why.

We’ve been seduced by the siren song of the season that promises “the most wonderful time of the year.” The temptress soothes and teases with hopes of reliving happy childhood memories while fulfilling our dreams. It’s where traditions are rekindled, families are reunited, long-lost friends materialize out of who knows where, and when work colleagues relate to each other as kindred souls for a change.

For two wonderful weeks, routine schedules are obliterated by complicated and demanding obligations. But it’s a time where spontaneity rules, and when work morphs into a stream of treats, long lunches, early exits and half-days off.

The “other worldliness” of the Christmas/New Year’s marathon is hard to grasp. Even deep into tangible parts of the trip, it’s dreamlike. Food, noise, chaos, people coming and going – it can be manic. Then in subtle ways, the haze clears. Reality reasserts itself.

A family member has to get to the airport; others scatter in reluctant pursuit of their real lives. Leftovers no longer taste so great. Christmas chaos created mountains of mess to clean. It’s soon time to “de-Christmas the house,” and one Sunday afternoon you’re staring into the face of Monday; that Monday. It’s Black Monday, and you’re none too happy about it.

We spent too much money. We left work projects mid-stream; there will be hell to pay and a big investment in sweat labor to catch up. It’s still winter, so it’s dark in the morning and in the afternoon. And just for giggles, it’s 23 below zero with a crisp 40 mile-an-hour north wind clipping along.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Black Monday is 10, the worst day of the year. But guess what? We’ve blown past it. It’s over. We’ve got the entire year ahead. There are resolutions to live up to, concerts to attend and movies to see.

We’ve got Grammys, Emmys and the Olympics to save us from the “dead weeks” of February. March means sports madness. Days grow longer. Training for marathons starts. There are graduations and reunion dates to consider.

Our economy is robust, the boys of baseball are warming up and the Bison are about to launch into a new phase of their storied football history.

And if I timed this column right, it should be a bright and warm Sunday. Black Monday is over, man. We won. Time to lighten up.


Ferragut is a Fargo-based national marketing consultant.