Every year for as long as I have been living here in the UK, I struggled with January. Previous to 2003, January was just another month, but my first January in England was a shock to the system.
There were some contributing factors that are no longer that relevant, but for this first January back then it was the super-bowl of all things. I had been living in the UK for 7 months at that point and the first excitement and shine of all things new had worn off. I started to get annoyed at things, found things weird rather than exciting. I was frustrated with the work I was doing, which never helps. But the biggest thing was the weather. That first January, there was not a single day of sunshine. The sun did not break through the clouds even for a moment that entire long month. In fact, that year there was no visible sunshine from the 30th of December to the 3rd of February. It was grey, the sky was looming over me as if it wanted to swallow me up whole. At times, it did not feel as if we had any daylight at all. It rained most of the time in one form or another. It was dismal and I got very depressed. (And yes I journalled it all, so I just re-read those pages about that January).
Now admittedly, no January since has been as bad as that first one, but for someone who lived in Southern Germany for 30 years before moving here, it was a shock to the system. In nearly 10 years in Munich, I had gotten used to blisteringly cold January days with wonderful sunshine. You can go to a beergarden in January after a nice walk soaking up the midday sunshine.
Now, I am writing this and naturally, the sun is trying to break through. Still, I have absorbed the gloom into my soul and over the last 14 years, January has become this thing, well, not a thing really, almost a person that is out there to get me.
Most years, I just resign myself to this longest of months and wait for February, which is a bit better thanks to pancakes and shortness (I also make Fasnetskuechle, which improves EVERYTHING). Some years, I have tried to improve the month by making exciting plans. Making marmelade, meeting friends, going bookshopping (it is a fact that most of the books I buy in a year are bought in January) – yet still, I am low, cranky and moody.
January is also a notoriously a slow month for me as a freelancer. Work is coming in in drips and drabs, mostly due to my clients (mostly German) taking their winter holiday to go skiing, most likely enjoying blue, sunny skies as they venture down the slopes. So jealous. This used to depress me so much, that for years now, I have set google reminders each day for January saying: “Remember, January means hardly any work: Read, go for a walk, make marmelade, nap.” (actual text)
Most days in January, you will find me in bed with my book straight after dinner. By the time, 7pm rolls round, I am just done with the day. I am upping my dose of Vitamin D by doubling my intake, take zinc and magnesium. Drink my happy tea. Read light books. Or at least books that interest me. And still, it all just sucks.
I know that come February, it will go uphill. I have a holiday in April to look forward to. I know it will be fine, and that makes it a bit easier looking at the diary and seeing the 7th January date looking back at me. It feels like we are on day 345 of January already, but no, the diary says different. Still, for 11 years of the month, I prefer to live in a northern climate and would not change it for the world.
Oh well, I best go and make some marmelade while I stare forlornly at my work email account which is barren and quiet.
Happy Sucky January.