On Monday morning, when I called the kids for school, they had many questions. Here are just some of them:
“Is it Saturday, can I watch TV? Okay, well even though it’s Monday, can I watch TV because it’s still kind of Christmas?”
“It’s still the middle of the night, right? It’s sooooo dark, it can’t be morning.”
“What’s that loud noise – is it rain?”
“Is there anything exciting happening this week?”
“How is it not Pancake Tuesday yet?”
“Do we get any days off school this week? When is mid-term?”
“Is there *anything* to look forward to at all? Like between now and summer? Anything?”
And I get it – that’s how I felt too when the clock went off minutes earlier, and my brain fumbled to work out what day it was, before the slow realisation kicked in – Monday morning, the first of five dark and dreary mornings to come.
But apart from the horror of cold, dark, mornings unadorned by Christmas lights or the promise of Advent chocolate, I don’t absolutely hate this time of year. I like the way it’s airy and free of pressure. The year is stretching out ahead, clean and open with none of the clutter we’ve had since September. I see the year like a clock face, with January where the number ‘one’ sits, and when I picture it winding all the way around to half past the hour and beyond, the road looks refreshingly clear. And open diary, with nothing written down yet.
It’s those final minutes from September to December that look busy and overwhelming on the clock face. Back to school preparation, settling in to new classes, getting used to homework again – something that seems to take us a full two months every year. Then it’s mid-term, and I’m figuring out Halloween costumes and how to get work done while they’re off, and then on November 1st, it’s straight into Christmas.
And much as I love Christmas, I let out breath in January each year, glad to have that clear road ahead. It’s peppered with breaks and events – my kids are already planning Mother’s Day, Easter, and most important of all, Pancake Tuesday – but none that involve any great preparation or pressure.
January also means hunkering down with comfort food because it’s too cold to consider anything else. So we’re living on gnocchi bake with chorizo and roast tomato pasta and chicken taleggio.
January means catching up on TV like Fargo (Most underrated series on TV ever? Best written female characters ever?) and MacMafia and something about Manhunters or Mindhunters that my husband says we’re going to watch next.
January means more time for reading now that Christmas is over but the nights are still long – I’m simultaneously reading Sharon Thompson’s The Abandoned and Jane Harper’s The Dry and really enjoying these two very different books.
And January means nice things because it’s January and we need nice things – so there’s cake on Wednesday night and wine on Friday night and cheese almost every night.
So I don’t love January, but I don’t hate it – I okay it. Except when the alarm goes off on Monday mornings – then I’m firmly with the kids. How is it not Pancake Tuesday yet?