|Page header and cover of a French ledger received for Christmas. Today is Saint Agathon's Day.|
I believe January is one of those hybrids, both month and state of mind. As I age, I find that I am happier with more hours of sunlight, more warmth. While I expect that, come August, I will be displeased with temperatures above 105, there is more day to the days. Winter nights, relieved by strings of cheery, glowing bulbs, are bearable. Without them, a sense of isolation creeps in. Shivering, along with watery gray skies, aggravates a nature already listing toward occasional melancholy. And all of this, mind you, takes place in Southern California, not North Dakota or even Virginia where winter doesn't kid around. And, may I add, how much I have always loved the rain. Just a bit less so when it falls in January.
January can feel like a primitive rope bridge strung between the sweetness, the natural or induced jollity of Christmas and the once-celebrated heart-filled red joy of Valentine's Day. Thank you, Dr. King, for giving us a holiday mid-month to release some of the chilly tension.
As I see each day as the chance for a new beginning, the New Year holds no particular promise of transformation to come. December brings a unique shine, associated with stars and glitter, colorful packaging, specific music, greetings exchanged, good wishes, peace on earth. January is the absence of festivity, all possible childlike anticipations too far away to give comfort. If one could find a way to spread the holidayness of December a bit thinner, to stretch it beyond the first of the year rather than using it up in what feels like a week or even just the one day, I believe winter would lose some of its sting. One would feel less bereft. No doubt you are thinking that to make the celebration of December holidays a more lengthy endeavor would dilute them. I disagree. January needs a little Christmas or its own special not-Christmas, its own bit of happy gleam to chase the deepened shadows, the damp, the ice.
I am not glum as I sit typing in my red sweater having spritzed cautiously frugal dots of Chanel #5 so the fragrance wafts from wrists to stuffy nose, singing to the senses. Without inflated expectations of Christmas, I no longer experience the droop that used to follow. Still, January at best is a wet blanket, at worst a bleak expanse. No, it is not a particularly rational response to a collection of days that mean no harm but one's response to stimuli is rarely rational. Keep the fires burning, hibernate if that helps pass the time, fill the hours with laughter and all that feeds the senses. Press on. Always know that something wonderful IS just around the corner. Hello, February. Will you be my winter Valentine?