I've always hated January. The drab weather, the biting cold and the Christmas cheer over. I used to cling to my Christmas tree until February when it was more of a dry stump than a festive decorative item and spent the month wailing for the month to be over.
Part of why I always hated January was also school-related. In secondary school January is the month where Christmas-hungover teachers squeeze in the last tests before the term ends; and in university it is the month in which all exams take place - as if the month wasn't depressing enough. Coupled with fog weighing down, darkness wrapping up the land and a bitter-cold chill cascading through the streets, it was the perfect recipe for a deep-seated depressive episode.
Even after I graduated from school and uni, the month never managed to fully pick up and be anything else than the most depressive time of the year, but this year I have a plan to make it less daunting and more enjoyable - yes, you read correctly, I am attempting to bring light into the darkest of the month, and do you know how I will attempt to do it? By embracing the darkness and not moaning about it.
Acceptance of an uncontrollable situation is, in my growing experience, the best way to get over something. Like the years before, I could wail, whine and bitch about Christmas being over and January dragging on, but it hasn't proven to be a very effective method, so why not give something else a shot? As we're also in another lockdown in Austria, it's the perfect time to curl up, drink cocoa and use January for what it's intended to be - hibernation. For the first time in - ever, I don't dread taking down the tree, in fact my fingers are itching to do it as soon as the new year rolls in, but I will sit it out until the 6th December, where it is traditionally done here.
I don't know about you, but as much as I love putting up the tree and decorating the flat, I feel it also has something liberating to take everything down and realise how much space you have left. This year I want to give the flat a thorough clean after everything Christmassy is boxed up, and decorate the flat winterly instead - reduced, cool and clean. I feel I have to much junk standing around, so I'll clean off the shelves and only return decorative items I miss after a week. A few chosen pieces instead of a mound of dust-gatherers.
In support of having less rather than more, I also vowed (and we'll see how long that one lasts) to not spend unnecessary money in January. I don't know about you, but Christmas is a financial bitch each year, and this year we bought so many new decorations I don't dare to look at the total Christmas spending sum. With all the shops closed, it is the perfect time to realise you don't (or shouldn't) always buy stuff to feel happy, but I'll attempt to find surges of happiness in other ways. The only allowance I'll make are books - for money invested in books is always well-spent, in my opinion. (And books are always necessary).
"WHEN YOU CAN SLIP INTO SILENCE
Although Christmas was a much more silent affair this year, it is still a time of plentiful food, festive cheer and a density that comes from family get-togethers, a long to-do list and the flat being more crammed with decoration. January, for me, represents calmness and cleanness after the Christmas storm, and, unlike in the previous years, I am not as afraid of this silence anymore. This may be because I am happier than I have been in a long time and don't dread the nothingness, the silence and the calmness as much as I used to do. When you can slip into silence without fearing your thoughts, January can be a warm embrace instead of a cold shock.
I feel we all haven't given the idea of hibernation enough credit. Of course, humans don't really hibernate like bears, but it has always been my impression that winter should be a time to slow down and curl up inside. Instead, our ambition-driven society never relents, never gives in, never breathes. With all the horror this year's situation has brought, it gave many people I know - including me - a chance to breathe, to relent, to curl up (in a positive sense, not the embryonal, devastated kind). So, January will be a month of turning in, of reducing socialness and trying to find the beauty within the life I live - contentment without the need of permanently being occupied, distracted and subsumed by the outer world. A cup of cocoa, a good book, my daughter on my lap...there are surely worse ways to spend a month...
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