In the Bleak Midwinter

Snow had fallen [snow on snow] -- rain on sleet on snow...

Snow had fallen [snow on snow] — rain on sleet on snow…

With apologies to the original song and its writer

The early part of January always feels like a let-down to me. The joy of having family visits, the flurry of activity — those are over and done with, leaving me with Christmas decorations to put away. The tree is still beautiful but I am beginning to think it is cluttering my living room.

I am feeling closed-in-upon by the clutter everywhere. To deal with the stress, I’ve been holing up in my room, laying on top of my [made] bed and reading book after book after book.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, are two such lovely books. Also? I have fallen in love with my still-new-to-me used Kindle.

This keeps me from noticing that the clutter in my room is about to swallow us whole in our sleep.  Here is where I note that the clutter is almost entirely on my side of the bedroom. My husband only occasionally dabbles in clutter in the main part of the house. (His workshop, however, is a different story. I call it the danger zone as I have actually injured myself trying to walk in there.)

Aside from the entire house being a disaster zone of clutterific proportions, I am facing down a birthday. It’s not the aging that gets to me — I embraced my graying hair several years ago. What bothers me is the annual discussion about calories in a hypothetical birthday dessert, one which follows so closely on the heels of Christmastide treats. This discussion does not always involve words spoken aloud; a simple raise of the spousal eyebrow says enough to cover a paragraph. (That goes for both sides, by the way.) It has become such a sore point that no birthday dessert is made in my house in January, neither by he who fears his wife growing larger nor by she who is growing older.

January is the month of let-downs. No one feels like partying celebrating; it is time for austerity, New Year’s resolutions, diets and exercise. On facebook, my friend Mary Alice referred to January as the secular lent, which I found to be a perfect description. Her exact words yesterday morning: “They’ve stopped stocking eggnog at the stores and we took down our Christmas tree today. The magazines are full of advice on how to administer various methods of self punishment. Truly, January is the saddest, most austere month of all. It’s the secular lent.” I love her writing!

I am one year away from a milestone birthday and I’ve been considering how I want to mark the occasion. I’d love a long weekend with good friends at the ocean, but a Pacific Northwest beach in January isn’t always a good idea. To start with, crossing the mountain pass could be treacherous because I have never had to personally put chains on the tires; also, no one really wants to celebrate anything this month (see previous paragraph). My job is such that I am as busy in the month of January as I am in the weeks prior to Easter and Christmas — possibly even more so, since I am not a numbers person. Annual reports (both incoming and outgoing), an annual meeting, and legally required financial statements take up a large amount of time and brain space.  This makes it hard to go away for a vacation even if I could convince others to join me.

SuperDad just left to take care of some important errands. I reminded him that my birthday was imminent (he is incapable of remembering such things) and suggested he buy me a piece of fitness equipment. (I also told him he didn’t need to bother wrapping it.) Secular lent is clearly evident and honored. I may be unable to figure out how to properly celebrate a birthday, but I know what I need to do today. With a steady drizzle, the mess on the street will stay for a while but I can at least make a difference regarding the mess in my house.
I’m heading to my bedroom to read… oops, can’t do that, the Kindle is charging! And you know, January austerity measures are calling de-clutter.

DSCN1306  street view

 

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13 thoughts on “In the Bleak Midwinter

  1. Winter has really hit here –snow, ice, and -13 degrees this morning.

    However, I have to admit, I see January as a fresh slate, rather than a secular lent (but I totally agree that it was beautifully written). Rob and I spent some time this afternoon putting away decorations. We didn’t get to all of them, and that’s okay –we’ll finish up tomorrow.

    I am sad about your birthday. For me, birthdays do not require major celebration, but they also should NOT involve reproving looks. I think a wonderful way to enjoy a birthday dessert is to go out to a restaurant. That way it’s just one piece, not a whole cake or pie that’s sitting at home.

  2. you know if you happen to have a plug near the bed, you can read the kindle while it charges right? thus doing two things at once 😛

  3. Oh, let’s party like it’s 1999, if the hubby is not in go to lunch with a friend. Have lunch, coffee and desert.

  4. I would be willing to switch birthdays with you – then you could celebrate in August, which is a passably good month to go to the beach. And I, for my January birthday, would do exactly what you said you were doing – lying in bed reading books.

    I do share with you the feeling of let-down in January. “Secular lent” is an excellent way to characterize it. I am also facing a big de-clutter task.

  5. Secular Lent. I like it.

    We haven’t gotten into real winter here. Yet. I know it’s coming. At this point, I embrace it because I enjoy some winter weather. By late February, however, I will be DONE with winter.

  6. It is after-holiday bleak at my workplace as well. Our shiny red and silver holiday decorations came down yesterday and we are back to the drab grey and brown on the cubicles, walls and carpets. This is the only holiday decorating I do anymore – makes sense, since I, sadly, spend more time at the office than at home during the month of December. We have a fun bunch of girls here at the office and we decorate for every holiday – Mardi Gras is next! Break out the purple, green and gold! Everyone’s cubicle gets at little color to keep our spirits/morale up. We’ve become very creative with dollar store decorations since we pay for it out of our own pockets.

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