For many people, a new year represents a time of hope and change, the chance to make your life better, and to better the lives of those around you. It presents a whole new wonder of possibilities. It is a new beginning.

That's all garbage.

Jan. 6 was dubbed as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, according to an analysis of 2 million Tweets. Although I don't Tweet, I felt a true kinship with those depressed Tweeters. I fought fiercely with an ugly scowl, certain my face would be stuck like that for the rest of the year, and then wrestled with the realization that we were all kissing goodbye to the warm, fuzzy festivities, the gifts, the days off from work, the hot cocoa and eggnog, stuffed platters, turkey leftovers, happy co-workers, cheerful bosses, charitable gestures, candy canes, the indoor smell of pine, food bank donations, Christmas bonuses, selfless giving, staring at gifts under the tree, homemade Christmas cookies, spreadable cheese and not counting calories and hello to a whole year ahead of full work weeks, new policies, the expectation that you will keep your nose to the grindstone, spent bonuses, empty wallets, holiday pounds to shed, tax season and nine full months until the holiday season rolls around again and you can be merry and cheerful.

Hello to the empty corner where the Christmas tree sat. Goodbye to the blow up Santa on your lawn. Goodbye to store shelves full of candy in October. Farewell to low-priced bread platters decorated with colorful turkeys in November and see ya' all next year to shiny green, red and white ribbons in December. Hello to the daily grind. Up early to a lot of caffeine, a grueling workday, the caffeine crash, far too little sleep and then it starts all over again and over and over and over ...

Sound depressing? Yup. Me too. And it's not just on Blue Monday. For many people, that rotten scowl lasts for most of January when you realize the three jolly, happy months of goodwill and cheer are over and are now followed by nine months of drudging through a daily overwhelming routine interspersed with splinter-like slivers of weekends. Hello Friday. Aaahhhhh. Breathe. Hello Monday. Hand me my coffee. Life.

Now, keep in mind, I am not referring to fellow co-workers, who may also be wearing a scowl, or the office brownie-baker, who may at this time be bringing in stale fruitcake. I am talking about work, the job you do every day, whether it is laying out orange cones on a highway or corralling a classroom full of nose-pickers. There are just things we all have to grin and bear such as customers who are always right and people who think cops enjoy writing out speeding tickets to crying teenagers.

One thing that always eases the January blues is winning the lottery and this could happen at any moment. I just read in Reader's Digest a little piece on what lottery winners have to say to the rest of us. One of the things was that "you haven't lived until someone picks up the laundry from your front porch and brings it back to you that night, completely done and neatly folded." I wish I could unread this because now it is all I will wish for for the rest of my life.

Just the one chance of letting someone else pull all of your husband's long sleeve shirts from inside his short sleeve work shirts and then having to turn them all right-side out amidst static electricity that makes your hair stand on its end.

Just that once I'd like to let someone else lose one sock and have to make the life altering decision of what to do with its mate. Just once to be spared that breath-holding moment of wondering "did the stain come out?" Letting someone else hear the washing machine pound out of balance on spin mode and have to get up to realign all of the sopping wet clothes.

That feeling for one moment that you have enough money that you can pay someone to do something for you that you could have easily done yourself. Maybe that is the reason we give to those people who sit on street corners, because it feels good to know we have a few extra dollars and that we can, because maybe just by lifting someone else's day, you can tag along and have yours lifted too, kind of like an airless balloon floating in the wind, attached to a balloon that looks so full you wonder if it will pop at any moment. Of course, it won't and neither will you.

Handing out change to homeless people may take all day in a big city but in a small town, you might only see one or two people a month. I know I am not alone in thinking that maybe they just don't want to work. Maybe they just got tired of finding all of the green M & M's gone in the candy bowl. Perhaps they ran out of tolerance for empty toilet paper rolls and people borrowing tape. It is quite possible that they grew bitter from seeing the endless hourglasses on their computer screens and finding crumbs on their keyboards. But, wouldn't you rather give to someone who might not need it than risk not giving to someone who truly does? How can drivers pass by these people and just not care, I ask myself.

Yes, I am talking to you, the same person who collects food bank items at work during the holiday season. Remember why you are collecting this food and who you are collecting it for and be this person all year long, especially on Blue Monday and throughout January. Continue to give presents and collect food. Make sure your candy bowl is always full.

It may be a long, grueling nine months of laboring day in and day out in a germ-infested office, of getting up before the crack of dawn and falling into bed dog tired with a brain that feels old and moldy, but I guarantee that if you give a dollar to that homeless person on the street corner and hear him or her say, "God bless you," which he or she always will, that it will make you smile. It will be a mini holiday for your heart amidst a long, cold and lonely nine months. It will make you forget that you spent your holiday bonus on an ergonomic office chair that squeaks. It will fill your limp balloon with air and enable you to realize that those nine months may include post holiday sales, chocolate on Valentine's Day, birthday gifts, Fourth of July fireworks, summer rain, new friendships, green M & M's, gooey brownies, tax returns, a new computer at work, a faded scowl, corny jokes, kids who grow out of picking their noses and writing your first column.

So, if you happen to be that person, and most of us are, who will set your dirty laundry out on your front porch and walk out a day later and see that it is still sitting there, well, cheer up. It's not so bad. Your socks may decide to mate for life and you may suddenly realize that you have a whole year ahead of you of new and wonderful opportunities, and that maybe instead of seeing your laundry basket as half full, you may only see it as half empty and suddenly feel hope that you may win the lottery ... because this could happen at any moment.

Heather Hill is a staff writer for the Battle Mountain Bugle. She can be reached via email at