Here in the Northeast, January isn’t the best month of the year. It’s usually freezing cold with lots of gray and gloomy days, with frigid nights full of icy stars. When we get that famous “January thaw,” all it really does is to tease us for a few days with unexpected high temps (40 degrees is a real WOO-HOO day!). The thaw always comes with dirty slush that sogs up your socks, and overnight turns fiendishly into icy rubble to trip you up the next day. No flowers bloom, no trees dare to put out their leaves, and all the dogs and cats have wet and dirty feet when they come back into the house. The house smells of wet wool, wet people and wet pets.
In January, the Crankee Yankee (my husband) bundles up in sweat pants, a sweat shirt and a fleece vest just to wear inside the house. (Myself, I’m usually in light pajama pants and a t-shirt; my motor just runs hot, I guess). At bedtime, least two of our three cats bunk up with us, and they usually plant themselves around our heads and/or in between us. (In the cold months, we are just two big old heating pads for them.)
All that said about cold and gray January, I still love it. Even at this time of year when we find ourselves yearning for the sight and smell of green growing things; grass and flowers and budding trees, when we long for the sun in our faces–still, I do love the stark and lovely grays and whites and browns of the month.
I learned a long time ago that what we speak and think becomes reality; if we gripe about the weather in January, it will seem even more cold and raw and unpretty. But, if we are glad for each day, even in the cold and damp, it puts a new light on everything. Then January becomes a time of hope and beauty; we notice that the days are slowly but surely getting longer. Even the chill and feeble sun holds a promise of coming spring; you can almost smell the first daffodils blooming.
The pond I love walking around is still and frozen, and only a few seagulls, a duck or two, and even a couple of geese who missed their flight south are hardy enough to brave the small patch of open water. The stately great blue herons still stand in icy water to fish where they can, and the little birds that scavenge in the reeds are already checking out future nesting areas. I imagine that the turtles and frogs, now sleeping deep in the mud, dream of sunshine and warm breezes. They, too, in their way, find joy in January.
In this brave new year, let’s not make the mistake of wishing we were already in May or June–let’s take a new look at where we are right at this moment. Sure, our feet are perpetually cold, we are sick of all the heavy clothes we wear, tired of runny noses and barking coughs, weary of the early darkness, but still–still there is joy.
Although I’ve felt for years that New Year’s Day is just a bunch of bushwa; the start of a new year with all its hastily-made and high-minded resolutions–it’s just a day. When you think about it, every day we wake up on Planet Earth is a new day, a new start. That being said, how about we think of poor old January in a new way? We can think of it as the month in which we count our blessings from the past years to now, to look at our families, friends and circumstances in a new way, to be glad for where we are and who we are.
To find joy right where we are, to see it for all it is, to be glad of drawing breath another day–this is the best kind of joy. To share another day with those we love, to look upon our circumstances with new eyes and a new attitude–that’s joy right smack dab in front of us.
So–anyone else for joy in January? I’m in–how about you?