All last year we were warned about the misery that is “January in Germany”. Friends and strangers shared how quickly the month of January will bring sadness, loneliness, and even, depression — if you aren’t careful.
Christmas markets shut down, passports are filed away, and the sun plays a killer game of hide and seek. Just a few reasons why this is a struggle of a month.
Although we moved here last January — it seemed we had missed this miserable month everyone spoke of. In fact, our impression of January was entirely different — and we spent 2017 confused as to why everyone wanted to talk bad behind its back. Either we were too distracted by our excitement of moving to a new country to even begin to notice its flaws — or all of these people are being awfully dramatic.
But after living here a full 12 months — we have a lot to compare January to. And we have a better understanding of why it’s so often criticized.
The excitement and business of the year literally comes to complete stop. There’s no more festivals or markets on the calendar every weekend. No trips to plan or pack for. No desire to stand on the porch and make (terribly broken) small talk with your neighbors.
January is cold. And wet. And dreary.
We’ve overdosed on Vitamin D and drowned ourselves in cozy blankets. We’ve cheered for the sun on the days she got the courage to shine — and then quickly tucked her back into bed around 4 PM. And just as others had warned us, we’ve seen a slight decrease in our urge to socialize, travel, get outside, or be productive.
But we’ve also found that January isn’t just a list of the ways we’ve wanted to do less. It’s also been a breath of fresh air — a 31 day gift to do surprisingly more.
In January, I finished reading two books. Spent more time standing over the stove. Spent even more time sitting at the table. Cleaned areas of the house that hadn’t been cleaned since WE MOVED IN (where does the time go?!). Played in the snow. Went to bed earlier, woke up later. Wore an adult onesie more days than not (true story). Prayed for discernment. Had sleepovers with friends. Roasted marshmallows inside. Cried over the hard, scary issues our future children will face. Painted furniture. Took personality tests. Baked apple pies.
As I reflect on what January so graciously allowed — I can’t help but notice that the good far outweighed the bad.
It’s as if my heart was finally able to slowly and gladly let out a deep breath.
My mind hasn’t stopped thanking me for the long awaited vacation days.
And I haven’t stopped thanking the Lord for a month that forced us to do something that He begs of us — rest.
So with that, how could we not be thankful for a month as sweet at January?
Sure, she looks a little rough around the edges — but when you actually get to know her, she’s patient and tender. She offers you a warm cup of tea and insists that it’s time to start showing yourself more grace. She prepares you a soft place to sit down and tells your mocking to-do list that he can go pick on someone his own size. She clears your schedule without even asking and reminds you that it’s good to make time for the things you truly enjoy doing — not just the things you get caught up in.
I’m sorry, January. I’m sorry for the ways we’ve negatively thought and gossiped about you. I’m sorry that you’ve been coined the bad guy. I’m sorry that most people think you’re harder to love than those other guys.
The truth is — I like you, January. You have been a good friend to me over the past few weeks. You love in ways those others guys can’t. And you’ve taught me that being unpopular or different doesn’t mean you offer less — sometimes you just might offer abundantly more.
As always, it’s not goodbye — but a see you later.
Or a see you next year, if you will.
I promise to remember you and what you’ve shown me until we meet again … in 11 months.