(another re-run, Januaries don’t change much year to year)
Dismal, dreary, depressing and a real downer. I think that just about covers the month of January. What a letdown after the previous two months! November kicks off the holiday season early every year, starting with the long Thanksgiving weekend – family oriented and peaceful. Even so, the quiet Thursday holiday we used to enjoy so much just isn’t the same these days with the prospect of Black Friday and big time shopping right around the corner.
Nowadays Black Friday, that 18 to 24 hour gift shopping blowout, abruptly ushers in what used to be a pleasant runup to our most loved holiday, Christmas. Whether we celebrate Christmas as a religious or a social occasion, we find ourselves in a mad whirl of activity throughout December that doesn’t ease up until January 1st.
We shop, we clean, we shop, we decorate, we shop, we send out greetings, shop, bake and wrap. Somehow we fit school programs, benefits, concerts and parties into our busy schedules, then shop some more. Refrains from favorite carols fill the air and everyone smiles. The days rush by. Santa Claus comes, he goes, and we have a brief opportunity to catch our breath and prepare for the last big party of the year.
New Year’s Eve means more merriment, music, noisemakers, champagne and promises to ourselves that we know we’ll never keep.
Then suddenly it’s all over. Everything stops. We pause for a day or so, remember how to relax, and look forward to some peace and quiet. Surprise! The minute we let our guard down that January feeling sets in. How can things change so quickly? We spent weeks rushing around, longing for a little relaxation; now in no time at all we’re bored. The bright shopping ads that were so enticing a month ago are now begging us to buy healthy foods, vitamins, exercise equipment and all sorts of sensible, ordinary things. There is no end to the shopping but now the fun is gone.
The weather that was invigorating and exciting in December is now drab and grey. The days are short and dark, the sun seems to have gone permanently south, and the only beings who enjoy these gloomy days are skiers, snowboarders and hard core shoppers who can ignore the weather while on the hunt for next year’s Christmas decorations at 70% off.
We feel like overblown balloons just pierced by a pin. We’ve kicked the bathroom scales under the bed. Last month’s roast meats and gravies are only a fond memory. The Christmas cookies are down to the last few crumbs and there’s nothing left in the candy dish but a couple of striped canes, both broken.
Worse yet, we find ourselves turning down the few dinner invitations that come our way in January. Where is the fun in a glass of sparkling water served with a bowl of greens and some poached tofu?
What to do? Well, there are several choices, depending on who we are. Some of us might call our favorite travel agent and book a flight to Papeete, Rio or The Bay of Islands. As far as I’m concerned, a quick peek in my checkbook cancels that plan. Even a jaunt south to Medford would be a strain on my bank balance at the present time and it wouldn’t be a bit warmer.
Some of us could opt for the “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em” strategy. That lets me out, too. How many snow angels can one person make and still think they’re having fun? And I hate soggy, half frozen mittens.
I suppose I could go shopping (there’s that word again). My pantry is bare and my list is long, filled with all sorts of boring stuff.
Instead, I opt for turning up the heat, donning those fleecy new jammies I found under my Christmas tree, sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate and diving into the stack of books I’ve been wanting to get at.
With enough books, it’ll be February before we know it, the days will be getting longer and the sun will be back. January will be a bad memory, best forgotten. I can always grocery shop next month.