Monday, January 1

I Heart January

Autumn is my favorite season, but January is my favorite month. I like Christmas, but I'm really glad when it's done and gone. What's best about January is that there's nothing distracting in it, which means it's a time to return to the joy of routine, and if you're the resolution making type (I'm not!), there's a thrilling possibility of a new and improved routine.

January, with it's lack of distractions, is also a good time for all those favorite hobbies, at least the indoor ones. I like doing jigsaw puzzles, and so do my kids, but January's usually the only month in which we crack out the puzzles and take over the dining room table to work on them. January is also the time of evenings by the fire curled up in a recliner with a favorite book, or maybe even with nothing but your own contemplative thoughts. (Although today, on this first day of January, here in the Yukon, it's much too warm for a fire.)

This is the usual month for forty below zero temperatures, and cold weather with it's accompanying ice fog is a little exciting when it happens in January. It's a time to test your mettle to see whether you're a whimpering weakling or a slogger with fortitude. And in January, with it's new beginnings and undemanding schedule, we're all still mostly sloggers. If the cold comes in November or early December, we're not ready for it and it hampers our Christmas preparations, and even the most hardy have been known to complain. If it comes in February, it's discouraging because we're already thinking ahead to spring. But for the month of January, cold weather means more evenings by the fire, more soup in the crockpot and more bread in the oven. And perhaps another jigsaw puzzle. It all good, you see.

Do I sound like an old fogey? Then my kids are old fogey's too--except, of course, for the one city girl. Youngest son looks forward all year to the do-nothing days after Christmas. I found that out last year when I scheduled a trip outside to Vancouver and Seattle between Christmas and New Year's Day. He had fun on the trip, but he mentioned throughout the year how he'd missed those puzzle-piecing evenings by the fire.

This year, I kept his Christmas holidays schedule uncluttered by trips or outings, and he looked forward to his free time. Then, in early December, his basketball team was invited to a tournament in Juneau right after Christmas. Early on the morning of the twenty-sixth it was off to Juneau for him. He was supposed to return yesterday, which would have given him a couple of days before school started again, but--alas!--the warm weather I mentioned above coupled with all the snow--and we've had a lot--caused avalanches on the road between Skagway, Alaska and Whitehorse, and that means his team is stuck two hours by road from home, and they've been stuck there since yesterday morning. (That's a photo of the road to Skagway in the spring on the left. Right now, there would be much more snow than that.)

I feel bad for him, but I feel worse for the coaches and chaparones. They've been keeping company with a group of 17 and 18 year old boys for nearly a week now. Skagway becomes a lot like a ghost town over the winter, not that you'd expect much open on New Year's Day, anyway. They are all, I'm sure, tired and bored, and frustrated because there's nothing they can do but wait for the road to open, and if the weather stays warm, who knows when that will be.

But I still like January. This whole mess just shows that January is not the month for trips and tournaments, but the month to stay home, read a book, think deep thoughts and do jigsaw puzzles. It's a good time to give your life a little order, too: a good time for sorting through junk draws and rearranging the piles on your desk top. And a good time for making lists.

So, for those of you who've read this far, I have an exciting announcement. Yes, I know, I've just written about the pleasures of routine and now I'm disrupting things by declaring that on this blog, January will be a celebration of all things listed. I'll be posting lists of this and that, some new, some old, and you're invited to participate along with me. If you make a list of any kind, send me the link in an email or comment and I'll include a link to your list in an upcoming post. Perhaps you are the resolution making type, and you've posted a list of resolutions. Maybe you'd like to post a list of the books you're reading, or hope to read, or have decided never to read unless you're stuck in Skagway, Alaska for more than 48 hours in the dead of winter. If it's a list, I'll like it.

To get us started, here's a list of two recent lists from Between Two Worlds. Okay, to be technically correct, they are lists from John Owen, a man who would be on my list of favorite Puritans:Now, go light a fire, curl up in the recliner, and contemplate those.