January and February have the onerous task of getting us back into routine. After the fun of choosing and making Halloween costumes and the gathering of family for Thanksgiving and the excitement of the Christmas Season, January comes in. We enter the period of no long weekends until Memorial Day (for most of us). Some people who have enough accrued vacation may get spring break, but they are the exception, not the rule. A few working at banks or government agencies might get a presidential holiday, but mostly it’s “shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone” until Memorial Day and the beginning of summer.
I’m a February baby, so at least I have a birthday to look forward to, but I remember every year before my birthday, my mom (who always managed our household finances and taxes) would tell me, “Now, it’s going to be a slim birthday. We had property taxes to pay in January, and income taxes will be due soon. So, don’t expect too much.” Every year. Those words. Without fail. I really didn’t like January and February that much.
If taxes happened every year and my birthday happened every year, I never quite understood why my mom couldn’t plan for both. After all, she was reasonably intelligent; I’m sure if she started saving for my birthday in March of one year, there would be plenty of money in February of the next for my birthday. Such is the self-centered thinking of the preteen and teen. (Since I am a parent now, I’m pretty sure I will reap my just reward for those thoughts over the next several years.)
By the time January and February are here, the snow on the side of the road is dirty and icky. Our cars are covered in salt, and the romance of winter precipitation has left us cold. Usually in January Wisconsin enters a miserable deep freeze in which outdoor snow sports are very little fun. However global climate change may be taking care of the deep freeze for us; unfortunately it may also be eliminating the snow too.
So January and February don’t have much to recommend themselves, except routine. And, frankly there is a great deal to be said for routine. It is much easier to create new good habits (like daily exercise) in this time when routine rules. It is much easier to make time for family time, bedtime stories, and hot chocolate by the fireplace when routine rules. It is much easier to learn something new like knitting or weaving or candlestick making when routine rules and you can carve out a set time every day or night to practice your craft. It is much easier to get your environment clean, your finances straight, and your diet in line, when you have routine as your guide. Frankly it is easier to stop and breathe deeply when you have routine as your guide, because you know what the rhythm of each day will be.
So perhaps we shouldn’t look at January and February as those months to be “gotten through” as we wait for the adventures of Memorial Day and the summer season. Perhaps we should embrace the routine, and use the framework it gives us to build new, good habits, learn new things and breathe deeply.
The air is cold and crisp and fresh. Inhale and let the rhythm of the routine lull you into a peaceful, daily existence. These are the gifts of every new year.
© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.