O Lord, on these chilly mornings, I do appreciate my snuggly, nice leather footwear. Sometimes, though, I miss the glare of the Mean Kitty slippers I bought at the Dollar Store. OMG, You’re right. If I really need to look a grouch in the eye, I can always find a mirror.
Some welcomed 2023 with the same enthusiasm as author Jerry Spinelli: “I love beginnings. If I were in charge of calendars, every day would be January 1.”
Contrariwise, author Roald Dahl would “remove January from the calendar altogether and have an extra July instead.”
Thankfully, neither works for a calendar company. But their clash illustrates typical debate.
My highly scientific poll, based on Walmart eavesdropping, suggests that in January, most shoppers wilt like post-Christmas poinsettias.
Snow-lovers gripe because The Weather Channel sent only flurries. Snow-haters grouse because blizzards lurk behind every cloud. Kids hate January because they return to school. Babies, imprisoned in snowsuits Grandma gave for Christmas, raise loud protests.
Besides, everyone’s broke.
We’re all on diets.
Many people really hate January.
My mother, a pastor’s wife, loved it. Her Christmas responsibilities ranged from distributing food baskets to ensuring no shepherd in her pageant picked his nose. Plus, we children assumed Mom would make Christmas dreams come true … without money.
Though she loved Jesus supremely, Mom thanked Him when His birthday party was done.
I, too, savor January’s serenity. Time for unhurried worship of the Christ who dared enter our crazy world. A hot-soup-homemade-bread aura helps us settle down and settle in to savor good books. For Hoosier authors, January’s excellent writing weather. (How do unlucky novelists in the Bahamas finish anything?)
Mom and I have passed January preferences to my Michigan grandson. He, however, loves shrieking forays down the highest sledding hills.
My husband and other sports fans welcome January because they wallow in basketball. Mourn losses. Decimate January peace with insane celebrations.
January also gave the world distinguished citizens: Martin Luther King, Benjamin Franklin and Joan of Arc. Betty White, James Earl Jones, Elvis and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hopefully, their birthday presents weren’t wrapped in leftover Christmas paper.
If this January sends snow, I’ll welcome snowflake kisses. Swish snow angels. Sled with my grandson, shrieking all the way down, “Jesus … he-e-e-elp!”
Then do it again.
Sorry, Roald Dahl. I’ll never vote these days off the calendar.
John Steinbeck reminds us: “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
Though, Charles Spurgeon offers even better advice: “Let January open with joy in the Lord.”
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Why do you like or dislike January?
It was the best of times. Set in the worst of times.
Amid COVID restrictions, how could we celebrate 46 years of wedded stress — er, bliss?
Normally, I offer suggestions way beyond our first anniversary, when Hubby’s parents paid for dinner at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant. Now, we pay for our own celebratory meals, sometimes in restaurants with daunting silverware and equally daunting prices. We no longer limit trips to exotic locales like Wabash, Indiana. Once, we even splurged on Hawaii.
But now, what to do?
Hubby enthused, “Let’s take a hike.”
But we hike so much, Hubby’s Fitbit thingy is exhausted.
“It’s cold,” I whined. Snuggling and drinking hot chocolate sounded saner.
“But I want to play in the snow.”
Snow? Okay! I donned cold-weather gear.
In a nearby forest, verdant pines and leafless oaks looked equally elegant. Outlined in white, scraggly weeds and thorny bushes proclaimed their Creator’s redemption. Though seemingly dormant, the forest teemed with animal tracks — with life.
Our decades together rested on us, light and joyous as snow.
It was the best of times.
Temperatures rose the next day, when we hiked at a nearly deserted park. Trees, having lost magical white clothing, shivered. We plowed through dark, sticky mud, attractive only when I imagined we were adventuring through brownie batter.
Soon, we navigated puddles, then streams flowing across trails. Images of Israelites crossing the Red Sea flooded my brain. Biblical thoughts, at least — more biblical than some eddying in my mind.
At a bison pen, big, shaggy animals barely blinked at our presence.
Bored bison are so romantic. Especially their smell.
Water inspires swoon-moon-June feelings, even in January. But the gray, half-frozen lake resembled an old black-and-white TV screen.
Skinny-dipping? For polar bears only.
Hubby asked, “Want to kayak?”
“Not enough ice and water for you on this trail?” I queried.
Fortunately, he was only half-serious. But he related how he and fellow Boy Scouts, during their winter paddle, chewed gum to mend their busted canoe.
“We had fun,” he insisted.
Despite challenges, we’d enjoyed our second hike, too. Together.
On January 4, 1975, I wouldn’t have anticipated fun on a mud hike. Then, we were all about storybook moments, white and sparkly like my wedding gown.
We still relive those moments, as on that incredible, snowy hike.
Still, mud-hike marriage moments happen, even in Hawaii. On a tropical trail, Hubby extracted me from sucky mud that stained us orange.
Thank God, we haven’t told each other to take a hike. Instead, we’ve taken a lifelong hike together, including the best of times and the worst of times.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are magical and mud-hike moments in your marriage?
Embrace November, with its nasty
weather and nastier heating bills?
Warm hats have gone AWOL, except
the pom-pom wonder Aunt Mabel knitted last Christmas. Buttonless and
zipper-challenged coats should have been dry-cleaned in August. Umbrellas are too
obsessed with their broken ribs to provide protection.
Fortunately, fireplaces ignite so
we can toast our toes. Along with the season’s first steaming cup of hot
chocolate, we’ll savor equally delicious books.
Although, authors sometimes diss November. Poet Robert Burns speaks of “chill November’s surly blast,” and in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s alter ego, Jo March, considers November the worst month of the year: “That’s the reason I was born in it.”
But readers rejoice that both Jo
and Louisa made their first appearance in November, along with C.S. Lewis, Robert
Louis Stevenson, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen Crane, William Blake and Mark
My dad also was born this month.
Pastor, missionary, tie-hater, woodchopper, even at age 91 — without him, I
remind my husband, I wouldn’t be here. Another reason to appreciate November,
Hubby pleads the Fifth.
Cozied up on November evenings, we
forget about washing windows or putting away garden hoses and patio furniture. If
coulda-shouldas yammer, congratulate yourself that you are not wearing a back
brace like the people who did.
November also grants a few weeks
to meet pre-holiday weight loss goals. But why let downer diet thoughts bother
you? The red top and black pants you’ve worn the past 19 Christmases will suffice.
Speaking of weight, ice cream
lovers don’t stand in long lines in November. So what if it’s cold? Be brave. Add
hot fudge or caramel to counteract frostbite. An even more appropriate choice: warm
peanut butter, as November is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month.
It’s also International Drum
Month in which we celebrate school bands whose stirring rhythms warm frozen
football crowds. Mothers whose toddlers bang toy drums may not cheer much, nor parents
whose garages house teen bands. But November 19, Have a Bad Day Day, serves these
moms and dads well.
All that daylight we saved since
March is nowhere to be found. But November, National Sleep Comfort Month,
confirms that snuggling in bed an extra hour only makes sense.
Jogging in the dark doesn’t.
Nor does yard work — especially with the blessing of an early snow. If we’re lucky, frozen ground won’t permit our planting 900 bulbs bought while under the influence of Lowe’s commercials.
Then we can watch football, “Face
the Nation” or “Punkin Chunkin,” depending on whether we want to cheer the demise
of quarterbacks, politicians, or vegetables. We’ll welcome Thanksgiving with
true gratitude that we remain safe in our recliners.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s
your favorite/least favorite thing about November?