Living

January is a time to look ahead, reflect and fight off the cold-weather blahs

January is named for Janus, the mythological god of beginnings, gates, doorways, passages and endings. Janus is supposed to have two faces, one that looks back at the preceding year and another that peers into the new year.
January is named for Janus, the mythological god of beginnings, gates, doorways, passages and endings. Janus is supposed to have two faces, one that looks back at the preceding year and another that peers into the new year. McClatchy News Network file photo

So now it’s January, and you might be fighting the January blahs.

Or maybe you aren’t. Perhaps you’re relieved that Christmas is behind you. Actually, Christmas is a psychological hurdle, a test of patience and endurance mingled with giving and receiving and of love and friendship.

Too often, the real reason for Christmas is forgotten. Oh, yes, there may be some lingering disappointments. Somewhere there is a wife who really wanted pearl earrings from her husband at Christmas instead of the utilitarian kitchen mixer.

And there is a hubby somewhere who was expecting golf clubs rather than the weed-eater his love gave him – unwrapped. But time heals such disappointments, at least many of them, left in December’s wake.

I’m glad that during the 12 days of Christmas I didn’t receive any swans a-swimming or lords a-leaping. I’ll take bluebirds over swans any day.

I’m grateful for all the good wishes and gifts that came my way, including the three sweet potatoes that neighbor John Phillips brought to our door.

“These are Beauregards,” he explained, “the kind you and I grew up on back in Surry County.”

I do regret that on Christmas Day I unearthed from the debris on my messy desk several Christmas cards that I had addressed and stamped at least a week before Christmas but neglected to mail.

Well, not to worry. Our former minister, the late Dr. Albert Edwards, always reminded us that Christmas isn’t over until the 12th day of Christmas, or Old Christmas. This year, that’s Jan. 5.

I used to hang up a stocking at Old Christmas. But the effort rarely yielded more than an orange or an apple.

January is named for Janus, the mythological god of beginnings, gates, doorways, passages and endings.

Janus is supposed to have two faces, one that looks back at the preceding year and another that peers into the new year. Aren’t we glad that we don’t have the ability to see the future?

January is our coldest month, often bringing “long handles weather,” which prompts some of us to pull out the thermal underwear from the back of the dresser drawer.

Also, January’s advent painfully reminds us that it’s time to at least start gathering information for the annual rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. With the new tax law going into effect, filing income taxes in the future will definitely be a headache.

For farmers, January brings hog killing weather, a term heard less and less in today’s culture.

Some years ago, on WPTF radio’s “Ask Your Neighbor” program, the newscaster noted that “Tomorrow we’re going to have hog killing weather.”

A listener promptly called the station to confirm what she thought she had heard.

“My goodness!” she responded. “If it’s gonna be cold enough to kill animals, I’d better bring in my plants from the porch.”

But as any farm-raised person knows, “hog killing weather” is the time when the temperature is cold enough to keep meat from spoiling as farmers harvest their hogs.

As a boy, I was always grateful that the school bus picked me up before the shots rang out from the hog pen. Some of the victims had been personal friends since they were piglets.

There is a medical term for the January blahs. It is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A primary cause of SAD is the fewer hours of daylight in autumn and winter. You’re familiar with poet Percy Shelley’s line, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

Answer: Yes. Or it always seems so to me.

Paratrooper’s poem

I hope you enjoyed “The Poet Laureate,” from Richard Walser’s “Nematodes in My Garden of Verse” that ran in this column recently.

Now enjoy a Fort Bragg paratrooper’s paraphrase of an excerpt from Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” from the same volume. The trooper’s version was found within the pages of a book returned to the base library. It ran in The News & Observer in 1956.

A tree who may in summer wear

A mess of troopers in her hair.

Upon whose bosom they have lain

And infinitely screamed with pain.

Jump-pay is drawn by fools like me,

But only God can miss a tree.

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