Why does January have to be a bear?

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January is such an unlovable month. I’m sure there are people who embrace it with pure unbridled joy, I just haven’t met any of them.

While it poses as a month of great promise — resolutions, a “clean slate,” new beginnings — it is, in reality, a trick of the calendar. Stuck, wholly and completely in the middle of a long mid-year slog between far more favorable seasons.

All my native experience centers around the northeastern climate. Thus my experience with January is inevitably chilling. January stands between the golden crunch of autumn with it’s promise of bonfires, Halloween parties and the warmth of Thanksgiving. December sweeps in under banners of peace, joy and goodwill. The snow, if it comes, is a silvery, twinkling delight.

Changes

The first snow is magical. The fifteenth snow, in January, is not. Later spring will give us a reason to hope and see sunshine and shirtsleeves again but January just feels gray and heavy to me.

A friend, being friendly (which is after all what you want in a friend) tried to cheer me: “oh the sun is out today, it’s lovely!” But I refuse to be fooled. I appreciate the effort but the spirit is lacking. January sun is so harsh and fools you. It blinds but never feels warm. The color seems different — sharp and metallic. This is not the soft, heavy, blanketed warmth of summer. (See me in July when I’m complaining about the heat).

Perhaps I’ve been indoors too much. Don’t they say people need sun to feel happy? Maybe I should sit outside for a bit and read (Heaven forbid I exercise!) — because THAT wouldn’t be odd at all. Me, all bundled up, relaxing on the porch with a book in the 20 degree winds.

Choices

Speaking of reading, I cannot decide if my choice of reading materials is hurting or helping my cause. I am an avid reader. I need and devour books the way others need food and air.

When the modern selections leave me unmoved (vampires have taken over the bookshelves these days) I return to past classics that don’t involve fangs.

I picked up a library copy of No More Words by Reeve Morrow Lindbergh. Moving, touching, poignant account of her mother, famed writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and her last years of life when a stroke had robbed her of most sentient thought and her ability to write or speak.

As someone who would die as if deprived of oxygen if I could not write or speak, I did not find this cheery.

Continuing my theme I read Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I dimly recall reading this book eons ago (perhaps in my teens). I’m certain I like it.

In retrospect the diaries and letters of an eloquent woman revealing her innermost pain during the time of the death of her child is probably not a cure for the blues.

I imagine I was not a mother when I read this last and thus my empathy, while genuine, did not cut quite so close to the bone. This time I found myself moved to tears while reading, prompting my daughter to question why sitting cozy on the sofa with a book was making me sad?

“Oh I can’t stop thinking about how senseless it all is.”

“Oh that is sad? When did this happen mommy?”

“1932 …”

Stuck

Now, despite knowing I should move on to something cheerier, I am having trouble trying to read anything else because the Lindberghs are still in my system. I have now pored through two more works by Reeve Lindbergh — absorbing, wonderful, and once again — tears.

Surely I will run out of tears or literary Lindberghs soon? Thus January marches on. The house is warm and I am (too) well fed. The children are healthy, laughing and bright. I know that each day is a blessing. I’m trying to “jolly” myself out of the winter doldrums, but all I really want to do is curl up with a good book or nap.

It is said that March roars in like a lion and out like a lamb. January seems bent on hibernation. Perhaps January, like me, is a bear?

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt likes sunshine and spring. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460 or www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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