Dismal, Dreary, Depressing…

…and a real downer.  I think that just about covers the month of January.  What a letdown after the usual hectic December! November seems to kick off the holiday season earlier every year, starting with the long Thanksgiving weekend –  family oriented and peaceable.  Even so, in recent years an undercurrent of excitement has begun to build and the quiet Thursday holiday we enjoy so much just isn’t the same with the prospect of Black Friday right around the corner.

Nowadays Black Friday, that 18 to 24 hour gift shopping blowout, abruptly ushers in what used to be a pleasant month of preparation for a much loved season of celebration.  Now we find ourselves in a mad whirl of activity 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.  Refrains from favorite carols fill the air and everyone is smiling.  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.  And then this!  The minute we let our guard down that January feeling sets in.  How can things change so quickly? We spent weeks on a treadmill, longing for a little relaxation, now in no time at all we’re bored.  The garish 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.

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 hibernating bears.

Everyone feels like an overblown balloon that was just pierced by a pin.  No one mentions that old reliable test for an enlarged waist line, “Can you pinch an inch?”  We don’t dare try.  Our bathroom scales are somewhere under the bed.  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, one broken.

Worse yet, we find ourselves turning down the few dinner invitations that come our way in January.  Where is the fun in a bowl full of greens and some poached tofu?  Last month’s roasted meats and rich gravies are only a fond memory.

What to do?  Well, there could be 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 to South 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 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.

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