By: Poojan Pandya and Julia Jassey
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? We can almost taste soft gingerbread cookies and warm pumpkin pie in the air as we race toward the holidays. The world has once again divided itself into two factions: those who partake in heartfelt renditions of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and those who cover their ears at the first hint of any Christmas tune. Holiday decorations don the streets in brilliant colors. Shoppers run from store to store to finish their holiday shopping. A welcome reprieve from months of schoolwork approaches at long last, and all seems well.
Except, maybe it’s not. While the Holiday Season is intended to foster high spirits, the unfortunate reality is this: the winter months often cause people to just feel off. As the days get colder and the nights get longer, many a Hills West student is feeling rather gloomy. Quite the oxymoronic juxtaposition, the happiest season is quickly giving way to… well… Seasonal Depression. Admittedly, to truly call it a “depression” is an exaggeration, but the feeling that something isn’t right in the world is oddly pervasive in High School West’s student body during what is supposed to be the most festive time of year. As students dress in holiday sweaters, there is a permissive funk mingling in the halls among the student body.
All that leaves one to wonder: what causes Seasonal Depression? Hills West Senior Jake Kenny shared an interesting perspective: he believes Seasonal Depression has proliferated in recent years due to social media. “If I’m checking Instagram,” Kenny explained, “and I’m single… and I see couple after couple after couple kissing under a Christmas Tree, going to Rockefeller Center, and things like that, it makes me question what I’m doing.” Almost everyone on social media can relate to the feeling of missing out that Kenny describes. During the holiday season, this sense of longing can be stronger than ever as festivity envelops social media. It’s not hard to get some serious FOMO (fear of missing out).
Mrs. Pastoressa, Hills West’s favorite AP Psychology teacher, shed some rather scientific light on our somber situation. Our change in mood can be largely accredited, she believes, to a preliminary change in weather. She posited, “Not only are the students in a funk, but I actually noticed the staff is more in a funk… I think it’s the weather. We have not had much sun. A day where it’s sunny out, a lot more people are happy and smiling and ‘up.’ Whereas, it’s been gloomy and kind of gray, and I think the moods match.”
Holiday traditions, however, have an almost magical way of bringing communities together and lifting spirits, according to guidance counselor Mrs. Nikosey. Thus, true to holiday spirit, United States History teacher Mr. Ferretti has a long history of bringing his classroom to life in December. To keep students engaged, Ferretti typically hides an Elf on the Shelf in a new spot in his classroom each day, giving his students a moment of fun reprieve to anticipated. “I have noticed that this year,” Mr. Ferretti commented, “unlike the last couple of years, nobody is really looking for the Elf. And, they look a little more tired, which happens annually, but I found… nobody is really looking for the Elf! The last couple of years they have!” Mrs. Nikosey agreed with Mr. Ferretti’s suggestion, adding, “When we did the decorating of the doors… the holiday spirit and got everyone excited. I haven’t felt the spirit yet.”
Whether it be the constant stream of sappy Instagram posts, the inescapably gloomy weather, or an overall inundation with school work, it’s clear that Hills is more ready for a break than ever. Don’t worry, West, we have almost made it!