December is not a good month to be unhappy.
December is meant to be full of glitter, tree ornaments and freshly-baked shortbread. We're told time and time again that it's a month of joy, laughter and warm fuzzy feelings, even though for most of us, it's just another winter month of dirty, slushy snow and terrible traffic during the morning commute.
The actors in commercials are constantly smiling and employees in department stores are relentlessly cheerful, making every moment where you don't feel optimally bright and shiny that much lonelier.
When we were kids, the holidays were meant to be a break from every single one of our few responsibilities. Now, life just keeps on going, relentlessly. In case you forget what happiness is like (however temporarily), here are a few things that come pretty close.
They're tiny things, seemingly insignificant moments that often pass without us even noticing, but they're important. You may not be able to relive any of them right now, but knowing they exist (or existed) is sometimes enough:
1. Reading a line of poetry or hearing a song lyric knocks the air out of your lungs because it captured a feeling you didn't know how to articulate.
2. Eating a perfectly green avocado.
3. Admiring a perfectly organized, alphabetized shelf of books, all with crisp new spines and no dog-eared pages. There's even just enough room to slide in another book (if you need to).
4. Hearing "I love you, too," and feeling like one of those flowers in Disney movies. You know, the ones that shake off the last bit of winter snow and bloom at 500 times the natural speed.
5. Finding an empty seat, against all odds, on a rush-hour train.
6. Drinking a mug of hot chocolate on a cold day. Not just any hot chocolate, though, the kind that's perfectly creamy and rich all the way through and doesn't have a layer of sickly sweet sludge at the bottom. The kind that warms your chest like a tiny little sun nestled within your ribs.
7. Dancing to "Shout" at a wedding and reveling in the cliché.
8. Receiving a card that's signed with more than "cheers" and a name.
9. Being asked for directions in a city where you've only lived for a few months and actually knowing the right answer.
10. Sitting in the passenger seat of your best friend's car, driving down a country road and belting out your favorite song together (that moment when you realize you're not nervous to reveal your shaky singing voice is pretty cool, too).
11. Rereading your middle school diary and feeling a sense of accomplishment for being marginally less of a mess than you once were.
12. Waking up to the first day after a long winter when you can go outside without a jacket, and it's like shedding a second skin.
13. Getting (or giving) a fleeting kiss in a sunny, crowded city square.
14. Putting on that one song at a party that gets every single person dancing.
15. Watching a tie-breaking goal, a game-winning touchdown or 32 perfectly executed fouettés in Swan Lake.
16. Wearing red lipstick.
17. Walking home from the bar with your friends after a wild night out, laughing and stumbling, and having your biggest concern be finding a really good snack.
18. Perfectly poaching an egg or finally learning to love olives or having all your bills paid on time — and then realizing you're that much closer to being a real adult.
19. Doodling in an old coloring book and realizing that you're still kind of a kid.
20. Puppies, obviously. This guy gets it.