For most people January is the worst month and yes whilst it is cold and grey with a sprinkling of post Christmas debt and seasonal blues....actually it's not that bad. I like cold. I like grey. And I'll just spend little this month.
It's a month off really, still able to hibernate and recuperate if you've overdone Christmas and New Year and stay home huddled in a blanket. I've got a couple of social events I need to go to this month but to be truthful I'd rather be at home. January to me is hopefully a chance to mentally catch up after the roller-coaster busyness I've been carried along with since October. Also if I look miserable, nobody is going to annoyingly tell me to cheer up, it's expected to look fed up in January so I can be at ease with my inner gloom. Hooray. I do enjoy a little bit of melancholy. Embracing my Eeyore tendencies I'll be quietly just being myself - cups of tea, reading, going for walks and gardening. No parties, no big social occasions, no fake cheer and all that festive glitz gone. Good.
However, secretly I'm happy, loving every minute of the dark days, howling winds and icy rain showers. Every time somebody moans about January being bleak I smugly smile like the Grinch. January I love you, you ground me for the rest of the year and connect me to those ancestral feelings of hardship, isolation and getting through the winter. Life is so easy in our warm houses that a fierce January gives that tiny remainder of previous life lived a little shake of making fires and battening down the hatches.
A whole month to plan, make lists and forget any rubbish from the previous year. A month off from too much pressure to be doing things, of not feeling guilty for not leaving the house all week and of trudging around the house in comfy clothes.
Here are my five things that occupy my time during the start of the year.
1. An abundance of food and drink. Getting rid of the Christmas left over treats and making wholesome veggie stews and soups. The slow cooker is out and I've got root veggies chopped up nearly every day for variations on winter casseroles - potatoes, swede, celeriac, carrots and turnips. For drinks I have syrups for my coffee - vanilla, hazelnut and gingerbread along with loads of different types of teas.
2. I read lots of books and then some more. Yes, fire blazing, comfy spot in the corner of the sofa, a book on nature or history, aforementioned cup of tea. I'm just reading the Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England as well as my university course books.
3. I pursue my hobbies which may involve books as above, getting out into the bitterly cold air on the odd occasion or watching a documentary about churches or religion. I go out a couple of evenings a week to bell ringing practice which stops me from being a total winter recluse.
4. January is a great time to study a new course. My new module will be starting next week for my post grad in Parish Church Studies and I can't wait. I have the reading list already so have made a start and I've also been revisiting last term's books too. There are loads of free short courses too such as with Future Learn and Coursera. I'm doing Magic in the Middle Ages which is a nice addition to furthering my understanding of the medieval era. There are so many courses I want to do, just wish there was more time. I wish there were more Januaries :)
5. I make my plans for the garden and allotment in January. With a rough sketch of the plot and a list of those jobs to do, I will be popping over to my weed riddled patch of land this weekend to burn off a few calories and get clearing and digging. Back at home I'll take stock of what seeds I already have and make my list of seeds to buy - my favourite kind of shopping.
Happy New Year and I hope you love January too.