In his 1922 collection of poems entitled The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot described April as the cruelest month. Maybe things are different in England, but I would match a Georgia January against a British April any time. The New Year’s first month in our native state feels dreadfully dreary and dull.
The post-holiday blues pose part of the problem. Ordinary time seems so ORDINARY compared to the extraordinary events of Christmas and New Year’s. Although we welcome returning to our normal routines, the “same old, same old” appears bland and boring. Our ruts feel like graves with two ends knocked out of them.
In January, all the gifts we gladly charged during December visit us like Ghosts of Christmas Past. The stores that eagerly offered easy credit now expect cold cash. Depression settles like a shroud as many face the prospect of having more month than money.
Then there’s the climate. The unpredictable winter weather is no wonderland in north Georgia. The temperature and humidity yo-yo up and down. One afternoon feels like a short-sleeve spring day. A few days later snow blankets the ground.
The shorter days play their part as well. Actually, the days are not really shorter—they all last 24 hours each! However, the daylight hours are sparse. Scientists have discovered a lack of exposure to sunshine can cause depression. At the very least, one can catch a good case of the winter blahs.
Winter also features the cold and flu season. A public crowd sounds like a tuberculosis ward. Sniffs, sneezes, coughs, and wheezes fill the air. The sick cling to Kleenex and crunch cough drops. A long wait in the doctor’s office becomes a part of our normal routine.
Winter in Georgia is indeed a bleak season. Spirits plunge along with the temperatures. By the middle of the first month, everyone longs for the jonquils and daffodils of spring. January could replace Eliot’s April as the cruelest month.
However, the first month of the calendar might also qualify as the kindest month. The brand New Year offers opportunities for fresh starts and new beginnings. With a little work and determination, New Year’s resolutions can come true. Today can be different from yesterday and tomorrow can be better than today.
The bleak landscape boasts a beauty all its own. The skeletal outline of an oak against the winter sky is breathtaking. The intricate etchings of frost rival the grandest artwork. Seeds nurtured deep in the Mother Earth’s womb prepare for new life in the spring.
Southern comfort can be found beside a warm fireplace with a mug of cocoa. Simmering vegetable soup served with piping hot cornbread nourishes the soul. When snow threatens, everyone knows that lining up at the grocery store for milk and bread can make the season merry and bright.
Winter also serves as a harbinger of spring. The cold, gray nights of winter help us appreciate the warm, blue days of spring. Every season has a beauty of its own that is enhanced in comparison and contrast with the other three seasons. Winter, spring, summer and fall along with every season of life possess both cruelty and kindness. We determine which element we will focus upon. Then our perspective shapes our lives.
January? There’s no finer time to live in Georgia!