As I write this, January is six days old, and yet red bows and other traces of the holiday shine forth in the living room or hide out in forgotten corners in the other rooms of the house.
My lack of industry in putting away the trappings of the holidays doesn’t indicate — or at least, I hope it doesn’t indicate — laziness. It’s just that I’m slower than I once was, and I become slightly slower each year.
This season I did a little less decorating than I did last year, which was in turn a little less than the year before. I still have a long way to go before I’m down to a reasonable amount of holiday decorating. Each December, as I get out the decorations I’ve decided to use, I always think of one more item, and then another, all of which seem essential if we’re really going to celebrate Christmas.
The result is more decorations up than I had planned, and storing all the items at the end of the holidays is more of a chore than I had hoped.
But lack of industry isn’t totally bad. A few red bows lingering, and maybe a wooden Santa Claus figure to watch over us, might just get us through the first few weeks of January. The leftover holiday cheer will ease us into the coldest month of the year.
We’ll build a fire, put an afghan over our legs and curl up with a good book. Christmas always brings a few new books, so there’s much to entertain us this month. In addition to books, which Dick selects with the aid of our favorite independent bookseller, he gifted me with a device that allows speedier access to the Internet. Searching the web and reading about one interesting subject after another is more tempting now.
I’m grateful for anything that allows me to read — books, journals, the web, my Kindle. If there are words involved, it’s my favorite pastime.
January is the month to look forward to a fresh year with its promises and to look back at the old year and its accomplishments. In Roman mythology, Janus, for whom this month is named, is the god of beginnings, transitions, time, gates, doorways, passages and endings. Janus represents duality with his two faces, one looking to the future and the other to the past.
We humans aren’t equipped with two faces, indeed to be said to be two-faced is not a compliment. But we still enjoy the process of looking both ways at this time of year — hence, all the articles about the year’s 10 best movies, books, television shows or any other entity, and then the dual articles about our resolutions for the year.
This is the time of year people start new diets or exercise regimens. Even more importantly, many of us resolve to be kinder, more considerate, better stewards of our environment and our personal resources. I always enjoy the News-Herald’s front-page story featuring some of our neighbors and their resolutions. The story reminds me to make a more conscientious effort to resolve to be a better person in many ways.
Though I don’t write down my resolutions, one of those I always formulate is to improve my garden — the flowers and the vegetables. Dick and I got a start on achieving that goal before 2020 arrived. On one of the warm days between Christmas and New Year’s Day, we planted 70-some daffodil bulbs.
Although we already have well over 1,000 daffodils on the hilltop (for many years I planted close to 100 bulbs each fall), I can’t resist ordering more each spring when the hilltop bursts forth in yellow and white. There are always beds that need a few more daffodils.
With Dick and me working together, planting a quantity of bulbs doesn’t seem like much labor — especially since Dick does most of the digging and I have the easier chore of placing the bulbs. It’s a fine way to spend a few hours in the December sun. The knowledge that days warm enough for such activities are limited makes the time that much sweeter.
Though the freshly planted bulbs are buried deep, some of the older plantings are already stirring. Green daffodil tips have popped up here and there around the hilltop. I used to fret over such early appearances; however, I’ve long since relinquished responsibility for the effect the sun has on my garden.
In this new year, I am resolute about enjoying whatever gifts mother nature offers — and trying not to second guess her.