According to my daughter, January 17th has been christened “the saddest day of the year”.
Poor 1/17! What did it do to offend the masses? The title is apparently more a nod to a feeling of general despair that shows up a few weeks into the new year; the date itself isn’t really sad any more than April 25th is the The Perfect Date .
All those New Year resolutions? Turns out the reason we have to resolve to do something is, frankly, we don’t want to do it. And haven’t wanted to do it and, odds are, aren’t gonna. Improve diet? More exercise? Organize the papers and general clutter of life? Midway through the very first month of the year we have collectively given up and reverted to sloth. Not a very resolute crowd, right?
Fun fact: storage container sales peak in January (source: massive pile of containers at my local home improvement center). Every year I buy a bunch more boxes, and file folders, and trash bags, bring them home and… maybe they make it out of the garage. Maybe not. Either way “organized” is NOT an adjective anyone has ever applied to my domestic habits. Never. Ever.
Add to that some grey weather, cold temperatures and lack of social events involving desserts and you get a big group sigh of despair. A national balloon with a slow leak. A sense of über blah.
What to do? Take a cue from the Canadians, who have the best sense of humor among all humans (source: Samantha Bee, Howie Mandel and Martin Short) and head south to Florida? Not practical, if only because the number of available hotel rooms is finite.
Relocate to the southern hemisphere and swap January for July? A quick Google search did not turn up proclamations saddling July 17th with responsibility for the midwinter misery of our Aussie and Kiwi friends. They have their share of earthquakes and critters that will bite and kill you, so clearly it isn’t all sunshine and beaches.
Maybe it’s our mindset, and that’s damnably hard to fix. But let’s try.
If you live in the developed world in 2017 and no longer wear diapers, your days are crushingly full (also true if you are still in diapers, but you’re not as aware of the situation). Clearly adulthood is busier than childhood because we grownups are the keepers of the calendar, but my childhood in the 60’s was straight up slower moving. The holiday season in particular has become both epic and insane; for over twenty years, our family has flown somewhere during the peak crowd-and-blizzard-delay season. Even if you stay put between December 15 and January 3, there is a special kind of madness in those weeks.
I have an aunt who stunned me years ago by declaring January her favorite month. When I expressed my surprise and skepticism — this is a woman who lives for a crowd around her table — she clarified by saying she embraced the calm after the chaos. Even the midwinter Chicago weather was welcome: an excuse to stay indoors, hunker down and take a breather.
She’s right. There’s nothing wrong with and everything to enjoy about a few dark, quiet weeks. It’s all in the semantics. Dull? Or peaceful? Depressing? Or rejuvenating?
So, a different kind of resolution for 2017: let’s cut ourselves some slack. With apologies to the weight loss and storage container industries, I vote we #takeabreak and just hang. Valentine’s Day will be here soon enough…