In The Bleak Midwinter

I hate January.
There it is.

I’ve fought it for years, thinking each time’s somehow different. Then every new post-holiday season, there it is. I bargain, I plead, I exercise, I sleep more, I sleep less, I stay busy, I lounge – and damnit, the result’s pretty much the same. The curse of the cold, gray, loooong month I try to brighten with snow decor and leftover Christmas lights. The “happy new year!” fervor dies down, and leaves this empty “what next?” feeling that’s hard to shake.

My love and I have birthdays right after new year’s, and we almost always celebrate with cough meds, kleenex & bed rest. It’s a long stretch from then until the END of the blasted month, when my mom’s and best friend’s (same!) birthdays signal the long-awaited hope that yes, Phil is stirring, and Candlemas – Groundhog Day – and finally THANK GOD Valentine’s Day – are on the way and March is not all that far behind. We coast into St. Pat’s, and cheer and toast a (not-so) new year that finally feels like it can really start.

By the way, if you live in a warmer climate or happen just to love January – good for you. I don’t hate winter. It really can be pretty and cozy if you do it right. But the shrunken, introspective nature of the season can make it even more of a challenge than usual to live in the now.

At the end of each year, I make a mini-ritual of transferring important dates from one calendar to the next. I make a hot drink and savor memories of those times as I look them over. This year I put it off for two weeks and man, did I spend the afternoon in an emotional muddle. But I’m glad finally to have it done. On to the next. To what? Not yet entirely sure. But that’s the way, isn’t it? We probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I still hate January. And miss the Nov-Dec glow. I try to recreate it in my own life and mind, but cannot. So, we’re stuck with stupid old January. I give, you cold long dark predictable jerk. Time for hot tea, piles of blankets, and another long winter’s nap. Take that, you stupid month.

A Pretty Good Year

Everyone’s doing their year-in-review posts today, so I feel compelled to join in. But unsure where to start.

Over here, ’14 was one of those years that takes you on one hell of a roller coaster ride and kind of dumps you out on the other side, for better or worse. This time, it certainly was for the better. And I thought turning 40 might be .. boring. So yes, first I turned 40. Survived the polar vortex. Lost a dear family member, and made a few great new friends. Moved after the thaw – twice. Sang cabaret numbers and many concerts with the awesome Belleville Chorus folks. Crocheted my dad a birthday afghan. Went to the cabin. Tracked Dad’s glorious road trip to Alaska and back. Planted a garden. Welcomed a new baby nephew. Spent the summer outdoors, in the country, and drew comics. Read and wrote, wrote & read. Did landscaping work. Picked some weeds. Played with my nephews. Wrote a summer Christmas carol for our choir (what?). Went to the cabin. Tried to teach five good groups of college folks how to trust their own voices. Picked more weeds. Sang, sang, sang, and then sang some more. Laid plans for even more of that, to come. Lived & stayed in love, with my three companions (one human, two canine). Practiced gratitude for family & friends, love & health, that gets us through it all.

So I’d say, yes. That was a pretty, pretty good year. Happy 2015, and cheers to many, many more.