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January, Janu-weary?


January is upon us again, and, as always, it is time to leave the Yuletide season behind.

My mom and I have just finished taking down and packing the Christmas decorations all around the house—my younger brother and sister are at school, while my dad is busy working and cannot be bothered—and now we’re brainstorming as to where and how best to store the sea of red and green ornaments for their eleven-month slumber.

And while we’re taking a moment to catch our breath, I decided to write about January and the start of the upcoming year. I also realized that I haven’t blogged about anything since December, and I feel that I have been idle for far too long. So this is me breaking a five-week hiatus from blogging.

I have a love-hate relationship with January.

I love January because its coming gives me a sense, albeit imaginary, of a new start. I mean come on. The onset of a new year doesn’t really mean your slate gets cleaned or that you can go back and start from square one, right? The reality, is that the failures and mistakes we made in the past will always be there to bother us, that is, if we allow them to. And so the good thing, is that yearly, January slaps us in the face and tells us to move on from our slip-ups and face the coming year with courage and optimism. January is not a fresh start; rather, it is a time for the re-evaluation of goals, priorities, and values.

I love January because it is accompanied by fresh, fond memories of family get-togethers and other similar revelries held during the holidays. I reminisce with the help of pictures that show genuine merriment shared with friends and family. Fortunately, an aunt decided to give me a Kodak digital camera as a present last Christmas, and so I have taken plenty of pictures (and then some pictures taken of me, too) during the Yuletide season. Which leads me to admit: besides looking at pictures, I also delight in considering the gifts I have received in the form of presents and/or hard cash. Because, as pictures enduringly remind us of moments shared with the people dearest to us, likewise the gifts we have received are lasting, tangible reminders of our loved ones’ thoughtfulness and generosity.

I love January because it is the time when we can finally catch our breaths after the brouhaha of Christmas (Eve) Day, New Year’s (Eve) Day, and the rest of the holiday season. In fact, besides cleaning my room and helping my mom clean up around the house, I’ve done nothing strenuous during the first few days of the new year. And as my mom and I are close to getting the house back to perfect, and may I say CLEAN, working order, I look forward to getting myself back into the zone—my personal niche—so that, after a month or so of indulging the whims of others in the spirit of Christmas, I can once again focus on what matters to me, i.e., writing and blogging, reading various books, running/jogging, discovering surprisingly remarkable music/musicians, and of course, watching my favorite TV shows online or on DVD.

I hate January because with it comes a sense of sadness, emptiness, and gloom (what I’d like to call “Janu-weary”). Post-Christmas depression, post-holiday let down, post-holiday fatigue—whatever it’s called, I look forward to its end. I suppose it’s how things go with people like me, who savor the build up to Christmas (Eve) Day, New Year’s (Eve) Day, and the short break we get to have in between, and, who, consequently, loathe the aftermath of it all.

I hate January because it brings on a new-found cutthroat mentality (e.g. exercising and dieting like hell to get rid of the extra calories, working extra hard to make up for the mammoth amount of money used to pay for the holiday expenses), even as I try in vain to keep myself from participating in the ruthless bull rush to attain less bodily fat, more money, and a greater sense of security—as if the three go together.

I hate January because it compels people to make a “return to reality”: students unwillingly go back to school, working men and women are once again subjected to long work days, and, here in the Philippines, the cold climate we associate with the Christmas season begins to get warmer and warmer in ever-so-tiny portions, every minute, hour, day, and week approaching the months of February, March, ‘til the first heat wave of summer. I’m not a student anymore, but when I was one, I used to groan loudly whenever I feel the first day of school looming in the not-so-far distance. I’m not yet working, so I am indifferent to the return to long work days—but that’s sure to change when I sign up for my first job. As for the shift to warmer weather, I actually look forward to having warmer days, but I do resent the scorching hot conditions we get on some weird days when the sun is way hotter than usual, without even a slight breeze blowing, and not a single cloud in sight.

So, as you can see, I love and hate January at the same time, and the two feelings cancel each other out.

This Yuletide season, my Aunt Liza, Uncle June, and their two children, Adriel and Kristen, came to the Philippines from the US to spend their Christmas and New Year here. The couple has not been in the country for about ten years, while it was the kids’ first time to visit. For about a week they called our house their home, and so my family and I spent our early days in December preparing our humble abode for our much-loved guests. Once the four of them were with us, we toured all around Metro Manila. We went to different parks, malls, and restaurants all around the metro, and, while I am absolutely exhausted after all the moving around we did, I am blissfully surprised to find myself looking at the metro in a whole new and invigorating light. And if that wasn’t good enough by itself, I have also been lucky to have experienced something special with my loved ones this Christmas season, and now, I am filled with new-found realizations about the value of friends and family, and the significance of celebrating life and the things that matter with the people I love whenever time and chance permits.

This year, I honestly do not know what to expect. I admit to being a little afraid of what may come, but I am too overwhelmed with the unlimited range of possibilities that are slowly opening up to me that I have no time to worry or be scared.

The last few days of December and the first few days of the new year have truly been a wonder for me; and—though I cannot exactly explain why—I have a really good feeling about the rest of January and the early part of year 2010.

As I was writing this entry, my mom and I have agreed to stow the Christmas decors (including the “small” tree) in one of her closets. I’m actually pretty amazed that there’s still space left in one of her cabinets despite her vast assortment of clothes, bags, and accessories. But now that we’ve finally come to an agreement, I’m off to help her stash away all the Christmas ornaments in the agreed upon location—before she changes her mind.

Meanwhile, I’m filled to bursting with anticipation for whatever ups and downs 2010 has in store for me.

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