January can be bleak.
Christmas holidays are over. When any Big Event is completed, our bodies and emotional systems can do strange things to compensate for the change. The adrenaline rush is gone. After the birth of a baby, it’s called postpartum depression. Recent years have added PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to our vocabulary. Hyper-activity often precedes extended sadness.
For most of us, Christmas is a glorious occasion—family in and out of the house, gift-giving and receiving, parties, celebrations, shopping.
Follow your manic activity with some of the shortest days of the year, add cold weather and due dates for Christmas bills, stay inside more than usual, get on the scales to see the damage done by your Christmas eating, and you have a recipe for gloom.
Here’s some good news. The days are already getting longer! The winter solstice happened weeks ago and there is more daylight every morning.
More good news: The animals are friskier at the zoo when the weather is cold than at any other time of the year. In the Northern hemisphere, July and August are hardly inviting months to frolic outdoors. If a tiger enjoys January, why can’t I? January is a great month for extended hikes. Invite a friend. You don’t see as many flowers, but you don’t see as many snakes either. The ragweed is gone. You see bright red holly berries and cardinals. The sky is still blue and the pine trees are still green.
Winter food is fun. Soups. Yay! This week is Restaurant Week in South Carolina. Sally and I look forward to going to new restaurants during January every year. Restaurant Week is a great marketing tool by the food industry and we take full advantage of it.
Last week, we discovered a bag of blackberries in our freezer. My grandson and I had picked them this summer. After one huge helping of cobbler for everyone, he and I fought over the last piece. We finally divided it the way my mother made my brother and me share a candy bar. One of us cut it in two and the other got to choose which piece he wanted. You may think I should have been more generous with my grandson. You would be wrong.
January can be dismal. But the last time I checked, I am in charge of my life, so as soon as I become aware of an inner January yukkiness (a highly technical term that Freud never used because he spoke German), I begin to take action. Sometimes I’m able to thwart the melancholy. Sometimes, not so much. But I always find something interesting in our freezer. I think that’s why they call it comfort food.