There’s nothing like preparing for disappointment to ensure its crushing triumph over the spirit. However, that’s what so many of us do at the advent of every January, as we resign ourselves to a month of dejection.
Oh, the colossal letdown after Christmas, dropping like a thud on our psyches. Thirty-one long days and nights of cold and snow. The shock of paying holiday credit-card bills and shedding blubber from those calorie-laden December bashes. The ebullience of Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve are gone, transforming merry folks into calcified, cynical souls. Our hearts are hardened because we expect the calendar to be filled with successive blue Mondays — a sure guarantee for dreariness.
Some people don’t even try to endure it. Rather than face the month with alacrity, flocks of snowbirds escape to warmer climes, spurning January with stony contempt.
They’ll never know the missed pleasures, for January, despite its chill, deserves to be embraced. January phobes would be wise to take a leaf from children. Rather than fight something they can’t alter, they join forces with it. A fresh snowfall heightens their mood because it means building snowmen, tossing snowballs, making snow angels, sledding, tobogganing — and perhaps even a day off school. And ice skating on a bracing day is a tonic, both physically and mentally.
Those activities aren’t just child’s play, either. Adults should never forget the child-like thrill of letting loose. But there’s a reflective side to the month, too. On winter walks, with the snow crunching underfoot, and the sun reflecting blue-white on the snow, the cathedral-like stillness inspires reflection.
January derives its name from Janus, the Roman god of the doorway. That’s fitting, because January is the gateway to the year. Instead of entering its portals hopefully, we slam the door on Janus, who simply wants to welcome us.
And those Christians who lament the passing of Christmas ought to keep in mind that Christmas is a season, not a day. Ever hear of the 12 days of Christmas? The eve of the Epiphany, Jan. 5 (aka Twelfth Night), is still celebrated in some cultures. And the Orthodox Christmas doesn’t happen until January.
If you still doubt January’s allures, consider Mad Men actress January Jones, whose ice-queen good looks (blonde hair and shimmering blue eyes) lend the month a certain beauty all its own. OK, so she recently became a brunette, but you get the idea.
We might also remember that Jan. 21 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The kvetching January sloths, content in their self-made winter cocoons and filled with woe, should keep in mind what he achieved in his short life.
January is a month for doing. Let’s bundle up and take up Janus’ invitation to enter the new year with a new attitude.