Sunday, January 25, 2015

January Shmanuary

I don’t like January anymore.
And it’s not because it’s such a letdown after all the Christmas celebrating. Well, maybe that’s a little bit of the reason why I hate it. And it’s not because I despise making New Year’s resolutions, although that’s pretty good motivation all by itself.
I hate January because it’s got a lousy attitude.
For years I blamed Christmas for the way January treated us. Specifically, Christmas’s tree. Not the fake xmas kind like I had as a kid, but the real ones that you chop down. And as soon as I got married, that’s the tradition we kicked off. We took beautiful dead trees, placed them in tubs of water, decorated them with electric lights and prayed we’d make it through Advent safely before the house either went up in flames or somebody got electrocuted.
Every single December we survived without any significant drama. No fires, no fruitcake poisoning, no sugar cookie comas. We showed up for church cantatas, didn’t overshoot the Christmas budget and still made everyone feel loved. And, as the last fireworks lit up the last December night’s sky, we welcomed the new year with a big sigh and sat back upon our laurels.
That’s when January took aim and shot us all in the keister. Which, back then I blamed on allergies from the deforested tree in our living room. But now I don’t think it was allergies at all. I think January is December’s jealous half-sister.
See, December is full of sparkle and music and parties and laughter. It’s all about celebration and families—the most wonderful time of the year, right? But there’s nothing remarkable about January except for flu season. At least that’s how it is at our house. January is like the fourth fairy in Sleeping Beauty—since she wasn’t invited to the party, she’s going to ruin it for everybody.
That’s so unfair. It’s not my fault that January doesn’t happen in the month of December.
Year after year, we went to bed healthy on December 31 and woke up with a temperature of 101 on January 1st—or January 17th, whichever came first. To be honest, there were some years that January surprised us, skipping past post-nasal drip, and simply brought bad news. One new year I came down with a virus that left hives as a parting gift. Nearly twenty years later, that virus still lives here like part of the family and is even mentioned in my will.
We’ve been broadsided in various Januarys with family loss, my husband’s persistent pneumothorax, and whooping cough. And for this year’s Special Edition of January, in the space of one horrific week, my husband suffered a mild stroke, came home from the hospital with a respiratory infection, and didn’t even get all the attention he deserved before I came down with the same virus.
Early this morning, as I lay in bed with a throat that burned like the Sahara Desert, I did my best to ignore the pain and fall back asleep. “The house is too cold to get up,” I reminded myself, “and even if I do, first I’ll have to go to the bathroom, then get some milk in the kitchen, come back to the bathroom for pain meds, and try not to wake up Rob with all that moving around.”
I knew I was right. It was too much trouble to get up for a stupid sore throat.
I guess I dropped off to sleep in spite of myself, though, because the next thing I knew I was standing face to face with Charlton Heston—Mr. Ten Commandments himself, but out of costume. And Charlton looked at me with those wise, all-knowing eyes and gave me this profound piece of advice:
“Go get some Tylenol. You’ll feel better,” he said.
Who argues with Moses?
I found my slippers, padded into the kitchen for medication and crawled back into bed before the sun came up. But not before I was consumed with overwhelming regret, something akin to what Aladdin must have felt when he realized there was no fourth wish.
You know that anyone who can part a raging sea with a stick, or play Chicken with Egyptian pharaohs, could ask the Almighty for permission to wipe the month of January off the face of the earth. He could do it with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back. He could slap that self-centered month down and force January to behave herself or hit the road.
But I forgot to ask. I won the lottery and forgot to claim my winnings. Now all I have left is a headache to remind me how forgetful I am.
January scores again.
I’m gonna need more Tylenol.

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