Can I Learn To Love January?

I hate the month of January.  If January was a person, it would be the kid that reminds the teacher that she forgot to assign the class homework.  If January was a food, it would be creamed spinach.  January is like a pile of dog doodoo that you don’t see when you are at the park.  You are skipping along through the month of December, and then BAM you step in a big steaming pile of January.

I hated January for several years, but I kept those feelings to myself. We live in a culture that says everyone should always maintain a positive attitude in all situations.  Positive thinking is considered virtuous.  Someone who hates an entire month on the calendar and verbalizes that hatred runs the risk of becoming a social pariah.  (If you don’t believe me, then you should see the reactions I got when I wrote about hating Christmas music!  Click here for that post.)  I hate January because the sky is gray all month.  The Christmas decorations get put away, and the house suddenly looks plain and lifeless.  Gardeners like me have nothing to do in January except stare at seed catalogs.  Nothing grows in January.  During this year’s winter solstice, I was walking outside contemplating what to put into my mental compost pile.  (If you missed that post, click here.  It’s one of my favorites.)  The following thought entered my head: “What if I could compost my hatred for January?  Is it possible for me to learn to like January?”  I decided it was worth trying because I was 100% certain that January was going to be on the calendar again in 2023. 

Here’s my unorthodox action plan to see if I can learn to like January.

  1. I’m baking a fruitcake. – I have a killer fruitcake recipe that I got off YouTube from an elderly woman in South Carolina.  (Click here if you want to read my fruitcake blog post.)  The candied fruits are only in the grocery store in December, the busiest month of the year.  Every December our house gets flooded with Christmas sweets.  This year I decided to bake the fruitcake in January.  This will allow me to bake the cake when I am not so busy and will give me something festive to eat all month.  You may hate fruitcake, so this action step wouldn’t work for you.  Is there some other festive treat that you like to eat in December that you just didn’t have time to make this year?  Stollen? Yule Log? Fudge? Decorated sugar cookies?  Pick one and make it in January and spread some December magic into January.
  2. I’m going to the movies. – I’m checking out the January new releases and going to see two new movies in the theatre.  I convinced myself that I didn’t like watching movies in the theatre, and I didn’t go for years.  Why go to a theater when you can sit at home on your own couch watching a movie in your comfortable clothes?  In 2022, friends kept inviting me to go to the movies, so I went.  Guess what?  Watching a movie in a theater is completely different.  You smell the popcorn.  You watch all the previews of coming attractions.  You hear the reactions of the other people.  It’s a shared experience that has an energy you can’t duplicate at home.  I love it! One of the movies I am going to see is M3gan, which is about an evil, life-size robotic doll.  Think Chucky meets Terminator.  For my older readers, think Talking Tina from the Twilight Zone on steroids.  The preview was scary, and I can’t wait to see it, which is the whole point behind this exercise.  I’m intentionally planning fun things to do in January.  If you don’t like the movies, maybe you could seek out concerts, plays, sporting events, or trivia nights at a local pub.  It doesn’t need to be extravagant.  It just needs to be something fun that you can put on the calendar.    
  3. I’m marking my calendar. –  My favorite Christmas memory from childhood is the Christmas calendars mom always made for my brother and me.  She would buy one red sheet of poster board and one sheet of green.  She would use a ruler and a marker to draw a calendar of December onto the poster boards.  She would buy colorful Christmas stickers, and each day we got to pick a sticker to put on our respective calendars so we could count down to Christmas.  I vividly remember the excitement of picking those stickers and placing them on the calendar.  When your five years old, stickers are a big deal.  The whole thing was very simple and very low tech, but then again that describes my entire childhood.  My cousins, brother and I once entertained ourselves for an entire summer by digging a hole in the backyard.  (I’ll write about the summer of the big dig in a future post.)  My plan is to put a sticker on my wall calendar every day in January just like I did when I was a kid in December.  The goal is to teach my brain to associate something unpleasant (the month of January) with something pleasant (my childhood Christmas calendar).  Hopefully a new neural pathway will be established linking the two together.  You can adapt this concept for yourself.  Think of something that made you happy when you were a child.  If you are a member of GenX, you probably had a favorite cereal like Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch that you don’t eat anymore because you realized those cereals are nothing but sugar.  Buy a box and eat a handful of cereal every day while crossing off a day on your calendar.  Your brain will start associating January with Lucky Charms.  Did you have a favorite song that you rocked out to on the way to school every morning?  Listen to it every day in January while marking a day off the calendar.  Get creative and see if you can rewire your brain to like January.
  4. I’m rocking out to new tunes. – I am a proud member of GenX, and any GenXer will tell you that the music we grew up on was the best.  We had Michael Jackson, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and all the big hair bands!  We had the Run DMC/Aerosmith collaboration of “Walk This Way.”  Thanks to streaming music services, it is so easy to put together a retro playlist that you NEVER have to listen to new music again.  The problem with that approach is that you miss out on the joy of finding that new song that speaks to your soul.  Remember what it was like when you bought a record/tape/CD/download and first heard a new song with lyrics that spoke to your soul and guitar riffs that went straight to your heart?  I want to feel that again in January, so I am intentionally seeking out new music on my YouTube music app.       
  5. I’m enlisting my friends. – I’m making sure I have a date with friends on the calendar every week in January.  Friendships are the foundation of a happy life.  The famous Belgian psychotherapist Esther Perel says the quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.  I can talk to my friends about things that my spouse hates to talk about.  For example, I once had a conversation with a friend about what would happen if various country music singers got into a bar fight.  (For the record, Miranda Lambert beats Carrie Underwood, and Ashley McBryde beats Miranda Lambert.)  If I tried to have that conversation with Doug, I would first have to explain who those people are, and then I would have to explain why we were even having that conversation.  However, I can have those kind of whackadoodle conversations with my friends, and we all have a good laugh, which is what we need in January.

Notice that none of the items on my list include exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of rest.  Those things are important, but they are also trite.  Do you really read my blog posts for me to say you should eat more broccoli and salmon?  Do any of my readers have ideas that they want to share for getting through January?  Let’s take the leap together and make the first month of the year a great one.    

2 thoughts on “Can I Learn To Love January?

  1. Daniel Hamlin

    Great article. Just curious cause I’m drawing on an aging memory, the episode of Twilight Zone with Tina, was that the one with Telly Savalas as the dad? Great one lol. I never thought ( at least not in the last few decades give or take) about the woes of winter months thanks to the family’s constant need of auto/ home repair as well as seeing to the needs of my girls and grand girl. But I’m looking forward to it as I have recently informed the family (other than my girls and grand girl lol) that I am retiring from the family fix it man lol. I’m getting too old n fat and it’s time for one of the young bucks to step up n carry the torch (just one of the pearls of advice I got from my daughters lol) . Looking forward to future posts

    Liked by 1 person


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