Many people find January a gloomy and depressing month but I like the opportunity to look back and towards the future at the same time. The New Year isn't so much a time for making Resolutions, (pie-crust promises as Mary Poppins might say), as for getting things into perspective.
For many years, January was a sad month for us: my father died on January second; a few years later my younger sister, barely thirty years old, died on January twenty-third and, just a few years later, my mother died on January twenty-fourth. I used to dread the coming of January with its feelings of loss and grief and I couldn't bear New Year celebrations. As time has passed, though, happy memories have taken precedence and I find it is good to have this specific time in the year when I look back on the lives of my parents and sister and recall all the positive aspects of their lives. My brother and older sister and I share funny stories from our childhood - there is nothing like laughter to put things into perspective: it overwhelms sadness just as light overwhelms darkness.
I always think of Janus on January 23rd. Not only is it the anniversary of my sister's death but also the day on which I twice had life-saving surgery, the same day in consecutive years. As anyone who is "in remission" knows, there is always an element of fear as check-ups and anniversaries approach but the image of Janus reminds me that each year I have further to look back on; years filled now with precious memories. Hope, like laughter, is a powerful antidote to gloom.
Filling in the dental appointments is the task I like least. I think of all the money I pay to be tortured! Not by my lovely dentist, I must hasten to say, but by the hygienist who offers spurious excuses for the agonising scraping and poking at my poor ivories and gums; it takes days for me to recover. On a brighter note, the waiting room always has tubs of sample tubes of different toothpastes. I like to pick up a few as they are the perfect size for overnight or weekend visits. One such sample intrigued me: the manufacturer noted the herbal ingredients and stated that many people found that, after using the toothpaste for14 days, they quite liked it. I don't know which PR firm they employ.
It was 6 January 1989 when we moved from Hampshire to Devon. Looking back over the 25 years that we have lived in this house, we see many changes. We arrived here with a young son and daughter, they are now grown with children of their own. The quiet village has grown into a busy thoroughfare, taking traffic to the beaches. We have been talking about leaving for several years and perhaps 2014 will see that happen. The great de-clutter has begun! Grandchildren Millie and Ben are very keen to have us move close to them, in fact so close that they want to build a house for us in their garden. They spent hours designing the ideal home for us:
It is a house with many doors and windows. Ben chose the shapes and colours, Millie did the drawing. There are enough rooms for us to entertain everyone we know. I can't wait to get there!
I know that the weather is a real problem for many people, this January but I hope that the freezing conditions in US and the floods in UK will soon be over and that everyone has a good year ahead.