Here’s something I realized this morning. We stopped opening the mail at this house somewhere around the middle of December. It just sat there in an ever-growing pile on the table in our entryway, expanding like a bag of frozen Rhodes dinner rolls that someone accidentally left in the trunk of a car after going to the grocery store on a warm day. And then by the time someone remembered that bag of frozen Rhodes dinner rolls a week or two later … wow. Major trunk mess.
I’ve spent this entire morning going through the mail — Christmas cards (sorry I didn’t respond, friends and family!), circulars, bills, travel magazines from AAA, requests for donations — asking myself how all this epic unopening happened.
I already knew the answer, of course. December happened. Not only did the usual December Happy Crazy happen, but then our family’s holiday fun bus got hijacked by an unexpected medical emergency, and you know how detours are. You’ll get to the party eventually. It’s just that you might get there after half the people have gone home.
So back to the mail. Yeah. We forgot all about it.
Here’s the other stuff we sort of forgot about this past December: calories and how they really do count. Money and how it turns out to be a finite resource. Exercise and how you actually feel better when you get it.
But whatever. It’s good for the human soul to periodically kick routine to the curb and embrace excess. That’s why holidays were invented.
Anyway, back to you, Dear January. You know me. I’ve always dreaded saying goodbye to December and hello to you. We’ve had a complicated relationship in the past.
OK, fine. You’re right. The word “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe matters. “Dysfunctional” is more like it. When everybody packed away the Christmas lights and you arrived, I felt like my brain automatically turned into a sponge filled with spreading black ink. The simplest things — walking up a flight of stairs, returning phone calls, washing a dirty dish — turned into tasks of Herculean proportions. All I wanted to do was to curl up in a corner and eat doughnuts. (Raised doughnuts.) (Not cake.) (Especially not cake with coconut.)
Eventually, I discovered things that help. Light box therapy. Lots of exercise. A little time each day outdoors. And, truly, employing all of these strategies have helped me cope with your annual arrival.
But this morning as I’ve been sorting through the mail, I’ve had a surprising change of heart. It’s like my friend Louise recently said, “Whoever would believe that January is looking better than December?”
So, January, I want to thank you this year for showing up with your promise of routine. Restraint. Order. Worthy and nourishing soups on a snowy evening. A good book, preferably a new mystery. Nights sitting in front of the TV with my husband, watching “The Good Wife” or “Person of Interest” or “Modern Family,” even though I’m not as in love with that show as I used to be.
Welcome, January. I’m glad you’re here.
Ann Cannon can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.