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The post-holiday doldrums
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In case you've been living in a hole – no offense to Punxsutawnee Phil, eagerly awaiting Groundhog Day – I feel it's my duty to inform you that it's a bit gloomy outside.

Well, it's gloomy as I'm writing this, at least. I'm no soothsayer, so I'm not going to pretend I know what the weather will be like as you read this.

I'll go out on a limb, though, and guess it will still be overcast and misting. Either because that's how the weather always is this time of year, or due to my latent psychic powers.

I mention the weather, that most mundane of topics, only because it sets the scene quite nicely for how I'm feeling: gloomy. Rather gloomy.

I've become severely infected with a case of the post-New Years doldrums.

I'm oversleeping. I'm overeating. I'm even under-activitying, which is, most definitely a word.

See, look at me. I'm even too lazy to think of a real word to replace “activitying.” My high school English teacher is having a heart attack right now.

But since 2011 came about I can't be bothered to care. I've been most content to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing but watch television – a bit out of keeping with my normal routine.

Admittedly, I have stumbled upon a new show/obsession. The brilliant “Community,” staring Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, and many other funny people whose names I don't know as students at a community college, is a great way to pass the time.

But I've knocked off an entire season in less than a week. That averages to, oh, say four or so episodes a day – some significant overindulging.

I always get a bit dour at this time of year, truth be told.

But I'm not going to attribute this sudden emotional turn to the weather, despite the media's frequent documentation of so-called Seasonal Affective Disorder. For one, though my protestations are numerous, the weather here does not dip down to levels severe enough to make one truly grumpy.

I think my change in moods comes down to a sudden lack of jolliness in life.

For months, I've been scheming up Christmas presents, making plans to see family, getting New Year’s details ironed out, and now, quite suddenly, it's all over. Even my Christmas radio stations have finished their annual run.

We're all out of holidays. We've got a bit of a dry spell ahead of us. It's back to normal life for the foreseeable future.

And as a potentially latent psychic, I can see quite a distance into that foreseeable future.

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but like most non-governmental employees I'll be working. The presidents' birthdays are nothing to get excited about. Groundhog Day, though just around the corner, is a holiday celebrated only by Punxsutawnee Phil and Bill Murray.

We've got two mid-level holidays coming up in Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, and but as an Italian male, neither of those holidays are really for me.

Our next “big” holiday isn't until after the shift to Daylight Savings Time, for goodness' sake. And Easter, though fun, is a day best enjoyed with young children and bunnies, both of which I am mercifully free of.

I'm sadly left with no true alternative but to buckle down and get back into the flow of regular life. It's time to face the Christmas-free music.

But in coming to that conclusion, I think I've made a significant step forward.

The holidays are great and merry and all that, but they almost make it too easy to be happy.

There's very little effort required to turn that frown upside down in December. But come January and the return of the real-world, we have to work for things once again.

I don't have a problem with working to achieve a better, happier life. I think I just forget for a few weeks each year that effort is required.

So it's back to the grindstone for me, back to the day-in day-out work of a journalist, followed by pursuing various leisure time activities to enrich my own life. It's back to finding my own happiness from day-to-day living, rather than waiting for the days to end so the holidays can begin.

I'm making my New Year's resolution – though I am a few weeks late – to be a cheerier, merrier person.

Of course, if you'd like to help out with my resolution, you're more than welcome.

To contact Alex Cantatore, send a candygram, singing telegram, or graham cracker to 138 S. Center St., Turlock, CA 95380. Any merry sort of gram will do.

If you don't care about Alex Cantatore's mental well-being, but still need to get a hold of him, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.