Ode to January
Well, it’s that time of year again. The time of year where everyone gets super-depressed because the holidays are over and now all we have to look forward to is a month of cold, dreary, boring winter, broken up only by a weekend of mattress sales disguised as honoring our civil rights pioneers. I bet if you took a poll, most people would list January as their least favorite month of the year (maybe tying with September for many students).
January is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s not because I love skiing or sledding or any of that. It’s not because I love freezing to death because the maintenance crew at my apartment complex hasn’t gotten on the ball to fix my heater yet. And it’s not because I hate the Christmas season and just want it to be over (which I don’t).
It’s because January represents all the best of what’s great about humanity.
Think about it. In ages past, at least in temperate climates, winter was a time of apprehension and fear. A family would hope and pray that the harvest earlier that year was bountiful enough to get them through the lean months. All people could do was huddle in their shelter for warmth until spring arrived, hoping that sickness or cold wouldn’t kill too many of them, waiting for the weather to grow warm enough to begin planting crops for the year ahead. The world had to shut down because it was too cold and snowy to do anything productive.
January isn’t the month anymore where everyone huddles in front of the fire, waiting for spring. January is the month where the house is cold and empty, because everyone is out in the world pursuing their schooling or work, and making their hopes and dreams into reality. Technology has advanced enough that we can actually afford to go out into the world and stay warm, and keep living our lives without worrying about running out of food, or catching pneumonia and dying.
January is the time when humanity starts working. People go to work, plan out their year, and start their business back up. People bid their families goodbye and go back into the world so they’ll have a family to come back home to. Content creators start making things again, after weeks of hiatus. TV shows start up again, websites start updating, news programs stop talking about holiday stuff and instead focus on what’s actually going on in the world. Performing groups stop preparing the hundred or so works (and innumerable variations on those works) focused on Christmas and instead can pick from everything else available in the world!
If anything, we’ve compressed all of what used to be winter activities into the last part of December, where everyone gets together to spend time with loved ones and remember the old year. But instead of staying indoors for three months, we almost immediately turn around and start living again.
January is the default. January is the time when we define what we are. January is where we set the theme for the year, that all other months are simply variations on.
February is January with a night of candy and chocolates thrown in somewhere.
March is January with a night of drinking (or leprechauns; whatever’s your poison).
April is January with lighter jackets and a week off (depending on what you do for a living).
May is January with greener grass.
June is when we take a break from January because we’ve been doing it for five months.
The environment and seasons may change during all these months, but the activity remains constant. January is where we begin everything, where we define ourselves.
January is humanity’s way of saying to the world, “You know your suggested start time of March or April? Yeah, you can take that suggestion and shove it! ‘Cause we’re good enough and advanced enough to take literally the coldest and harshest month of the year and make it one of activity, production, and progress! We don’t hide in caves or cottages anymore! We are masters of ourselves! We can accomplish great things! And we’re going to take this entire month and lay the foundation of the universe!”
So let’s love January. After all, without January, what would there be to celebrate during the rest of the year, other than crops and pneumonia?