(This piece was originally published in Cedarburg Bridge.)
Stark, solemn trees stand sentinel along our streets. The earth is barren, cold and hard beneath our feet. In January, winter settles into our bones like a bear into his cave. Gone is the joyous ringing of bells, shining lights, and shimmering splendor of the holidays. The explosion of fireworks ushering in the New Year fades and flickers into deep winter stillness.
And yet, there is comfort in the slowing, as we burrow into our homes before cozy fires and steaming bowls of hearty, homemade soup and warm, crusty bread. No longer are we frantically dashing from this store to that party. We can finally put our pocketbooks away and embrace the simplicity of this unencumbered time. Bundled in woolen socks and sweaters, we sit with a cup of hot tea or cocoa by our side and a good book in hand, or new Netflix series queued up, to carry us through the long nights ahead.
A blizzard is a welcome disruption to the monotony of these days. “Snow day!” the children exult. Sledding and snowball fights ensue, board games are strewn about the family room, and leisurely conversation lingers around the kitchen table, as noses and cheeks thaw before blueberry pancakes and the scent of warm, maple syrup wafting in the air.
January can seem long and hard and dreary. The dull sun, gray sky, brown trees, and white earth may try to darken our spirits, but now is the time to lean into the stillness, the quiet, the beauty of early sunsets and lightened “to do” lists. Let striving cease and resting begin. Release busyness and reconnect over a meal, a game, a walk, a story.
Embrace hibernation and the love of hearth and home, where our strength and souls are restored and renewed for the months ahead, when the light grows brighter and the earth beckons us to rise up and run among the daffodils and tulips.
Be still and know the joy of January.