So every year around about now, after the kids are back in school or work, after the tree has been taken down and the decorations put away, I hear this familiar refrain from my wife Kathy, "I LOVE JANUARY!".
I've always had mixed feelings about January. My Dad hated January and for good reason!! To my Dad, January meant enduring bone-chilling temperatures to feed and care for our herd of about 80 beef cattle. January would sometimes mean daytime temperatures well below zero, and with no buildings or hills and few trees to slow it down, the wind would sweep across the Nebraska plains, picking up the snow on the ground and depositing it back in the roads and paths that had just been cleared. Dad's morning would begin by layering up with thermal underwear, coveralls, and heavy coats before venturing outside to start the tractor engines to warm them up for the feeding chores. On weekends or if school was cancelled, my brother and I would contribute by driving the tractors or by helping toss hay bales off the trailer as the cows eagerly surrounded us, steam rising from their backs and puffing from their nostrils. January was a difficult month for the livestock, and keeping the cows alive and in good health was absolutely critical to our small farming operation.
But I get it! January can also be a time for something of a pause or at least a change of pace when compared to December. It can be a time to slow down and catch our breath. Even God needed a change of pace after the busyness of creation. God, we are told, took the seventh day and rested. Considering what we're learning these days about how unimaginably huge and complex and wonderful the universe is, I for one wouldn't have blamed him if he had taken a whole month off! And why not January? July is too hot and August is way too busy getting ready for school to start. January has one big thing going for it that the other months lack, and that's simply that it follows December.
So this year, I'm going to make a special effort to embrace January. I'm going to try to really enjoy not worrying about the weeds in the garden and not having to mow the yard or trim the shrubs. I'm going to try to spend less time watching the news feed and more time with a good book. I intend to find true satisfaction in cleaning up after the tree has been banished to the curb and helping to restore normal orderliness to the house.
This January, I hope to be more mindful and thankful for each day, for the beauty of a full moon reflecting off new fallen snow, for the sound of the kids enjoying the sledding hill behind our house, for the warmth of an evening in front of the fireplace shared with family and friends.
I hope that you too, can find a way to embrace this gift from God that we call January, no matter which time of the year it comes for you.
Jerry Kahrs, Elder