Nellie Bly made several attempts at a regular column across her career. She was much more successful towards the end of her life, but she had a run of several months from the end of 1894 to early 1895 under the heading of “Nellie Bly Says.” These seem to be nothing more than what we today would call a brain dump, giving us fascinating glimpses inside her mind. This short piece ran on Christmas Day in 1894, and it’s amazing how 129 years ago she’s tackling Christmas-related depression. As someone who dealt with depression herself, this is clearly a heartfelt, melancholy post validating the blue feelings many people experience this time of year. As usual, Bly shows her bravery by mentioning the unmentionable. 


New York World – December 25, 1894

I believe there are more unhappy people on “Merry Christmas” than on any other day in the year. The universal idea that everybody greets Christmas with joy is a delusion.

The majority of people in the world are unable to celebrate Christmas, and the knowledge that it is a day set apart for universal rejoicing does more than anything else to increase the wretchedness of the unfortunate.

I know plenty of people who hate Christmas, who claim it is the most miserable day in the entire year. While visiting the shops the other night I met a young man whom I know to be a hard worker, to have no relatives and no time to make acquaintances. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was buying two presents—he couldn’t afford more. One was for his bootblack and the other was for himself!

He couldn’t endure to have the men who work with him know he was so friendless that he had no one to give him a present.

There are many others who do give presents, but I know they get morbidly blue and find life a cloud of gloom from Christmas Eve until the day after.

“I shall be thankful when Christmas is over,” a hundred persons have said to me.

So shall I. I am not a Vanderbilt, but I could spend a Vanderbilt’s income at Christmas time. I would give every hungry man, woman and child a dinner. I would buy warm coats for poor men who can’t afford them. I would let all my poor souls who count the lumps of coal they burn to have one jolly, roaring fire. I would give every poor family a big fat turkey, and then I’d sit down and thank heaven that I was able to give.

If you can’t have a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Happy New Year.

Nellie Bly.