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Good Riddance to January and Pass the Chocolate
“Sometimes I just can’t face this month…. Bears and other hibernating creatures know how to handle January. They sleep through her tantrums.”

"Next year, we should just cancel January,” I suggested to a colleague after we’d called off our third event in one month because of the weather. March might be fickle and November depressed, but January suffers from mood swings too unpredictable for my tastes.

Let’s look at the bright side. Winter’s almost over. We can see the deer wandering around now.

She’d swung to her lower depths as I wrote this column. Schools were cancelled and flights grounded thanks to the icy tears January had shed through the night. We woke in the morning to a grumpy month, her bleak mood darkening the sky into a steely grey. I don’t know about you, but I just wanted to pull the covers over my head.

That thought occurs to me frequently in January. Sometimes I just can’t face this month. Her deep freezes would be unbearable if it weren’t for the fact that the sun has begun to show up for longer hours. That warms my heart a little, but it’s hard to remember your heart is warm when your fingers and toes are suffering frostbite.

Bears and other hibernating creatures know how to handle January. They sleep through her tantrums. We humans aren’t so fortunate for January has a way of forcing us to rise to her expectations, even though she rarely rewards us for doing so.

January forces resolutions upon us. Eat lettuce instead of chocolate. Buy a gym membership. Hike up your heavy socks and long johns and lace the skates December thrust upon you in the guise of a Christmas gift. Gentle December, with her sparkly lights and sentimental song – who could imagine she’s so closely related to January?

January makes us believe we are off to a new start. The first-born of the year she has that eldest sibling ability to rally the troops. It’s hard to ignore her insistent call to clean the basement, organize closets, shred last year’s bills and start cooking everything in a crock pot. January can make lentils sound exotic.

When January’s mood swings to the heights she captivates us with her brilliance and makes us forget we were mad at her just 24 hours earlier.

It happened to me twice this month. I stepped out of my car one starry night when January seemed in a mellow mood. She was so welcoming I didn’t want to go inside, didn’t even think about lighting the fire and shutting out the cold. I just stood staring into space, marvelling at the wonder of a winter’s night sky.

It happened again during after one of January’s particularly painful freezes. I awoke to a world where everything – trees, bushes, clotheslines – were dusted with ice-crystals so pretty that January looked enticing. I went outside to shovel the front walk and found myself standing still instead. Everything was melting as January’s mood thawed. On such days, I imagine I might even become friends with this moody month.

But I’m not magnanimous enough for that. I know January isn’t to be trusted. Sure enough, the day after the diamonds appeared, they disappeared and January was throwing a hissy fit, spitting snow and freezing rain and smiling cruelly as I chipped away at the sheet of ice on my car window. With every chip, I gritted my teeth and snarled right back. January does not inspire good behaviour.

The only creatures that seem ambivalent to January’s moods are the small birds, squirrels and chipmunks that visit the birdfeeder on a daily basis. The perching birds – wrens, redpolls and chickadees – are light enough to dance across the snow whether it’s crusty or cushioned. The pheasants aren’t so fortunate; their bulky derrieres obey gravity, sinking their spindly legs knee deep in snow (presuming they have knees).

The squirrels and chipmunks seem to welcome January on her coldest days because it gives them a chance to show off their winter coats which puff up miraculously as the temperature drops. Their tails are especially glorious and I tell myself they’re wagging them in January’s face, showing a little attitude to a month that certainly deserves it.

January took her leave of us a few days ago, and I can’t say I’m sad to see her go. I’m glad to see February arrive. She might have her own mood issues but at least she’s a fan of chocolate. I can endure March, because even though she’s certain to sweep in with a few stormy days in her wake, she also encourages holidays. In April I can tolerate the last blasts of winter because I know spring is on her way.

As for January? All I can say is good riddance.

Lynda MacGibbon is a writer based in Riverview New Brunswick and the NB/PEI Director for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. She can be reached at

Originally published in Moncton Times & Transcipt, Moncton, NB, January 31, 2009, and simultaneously on




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