THE HOLIDAYS ARE PAST. So, too, is the mirth and jocularity, the glee. There is no reason to wear anything velvety or shiny. The house is, again, bereft of festive decorations, most (but not all!) of which have been tucked back into the basement closet designated for seasonal decor. The multicolored twinkle lights still outline the roof, but only because the subfreezing temperatures of the past week preclude any rational husband human from climbing a ladder to attempt to remove them. The brilliant blanket of white snow that glazed the earth has disappeared, except for some dirty, seemingly-permanent glaciers left in inconvenient spots by zealous snow plow operators.
The winter solstice occurred two weeks ago, and even though the length of each day is inching in a positive direction, it's still dark when I awake and when I return home in the evening. All I want to do is drink warm tea, then crawl into my flannel-sheeted, down-comforted bed, the better to deny how drafty our windows are. My pants are snug, the result of months weeks of overindulgence. I hide the telltale overhang with a new, brown, bulky sweater one size too big, snatched from a department store's winter clearance rack – a sweater no one wanted to give as a gift or wear during holiday celebrations.
It is so, sooo cold outside!
For as long as I can remember, I have hated the month of January. First of all, it's the longest calendar month of winter, yet we are easily pushing through the second full month of winter-like weather here. Second, there's the post-holiday letdown. After a full month of reuniting with family and friends, cooking and celebrating and eating and drinking and toasting and wrapping and giving and unwrapping and thanking and hugging, we return to the same old unceremonious, repetitive pre-holiday grind. After two weeks of easy commutes, owing to all the other workers who were burning use-it-or-lose-it vacation days, I once again fight for parking in the lot, a seat on the train, a step on the up-escalator.
I used to reserve my hatred for February. I considered it an insulting demi-month tucked in between the doldrums of January and the promise of Spring that comes with March (even though Spring weather really doesn't come until April). Oh sure, there's the Super Bowl, but other than that, February is really just an afterthought. But more and more lately? It's January I loathe.
Except for one thing: My youngest son's birthday.
Peezer turns five years old today! Five years ago, Curt and I had this conversation:
HIM: "So, what do you want to do today?"
ME: "Uh, I dunno… how about we go have a baby?"
And we did.
This child is blessing beyond measure, a true joy who makes our family complete. He gives me reason to plan celebrations beyond New Year's Day. He makes me happy to continue giving and fete-ing into the blustery, frigid days of January. He enables me to occasionally deny my true age.
I will need to be reminded of this when, this weekend, a dozen of his school pals descend on our home to partake in a medieval-themed birthday party, home-hosted because I simply couldn't bear the thought of dropping some mad, crazy coin on one of those canned juvenile birthday party factories. Sure, it'll be two hours of shrieking party and twelve three hours of scrubbing icing off of every visible orifice surface, but I like to think that it will stand out when compared with the year he went to I-don't-remember-how-many parties at that one padded, indoor, must-wear-your-socks place where the "party program" was led by perky teenage girls with pasted-on smiles who were going through the motions and thinking what, again?
After this weekend's birthday party, there is still more bloody flippin' January to contend with.
Yet, there is hope. By the time January finally, mercifully ends, there's the wee afterthought of February to trudge through. Then we turn the calendar page to March and the promise of Springtime! Soon thereafter, the earth will reawaken and turn green again, and I will dig through that closet in the basement to pull out the Easter decorations, all pastels and blossoms and eggs and fuzzy critters and the romise of new life.
All of which means I have, what, three more months to figure out what I'm gonna do with the "secret" I'm concealing under my brown, clearance-rack sweater.