January doesn’t have any stories of jolly men in red suits delivering presents. There’s no associations with flying reindeer, or toy-making elves. There’s no one day where the nation pauses to give thanks.
In fact, in the Northeast January’s a hibernating month. The days are short, the nights long. We hunker down in our scarves and fluffy jackets, rush from heated house to warmed car. It’s winter, and it can be fierce.
But I’ve been noticing that there’s a lot of magic to be had in January.
The sun rises earlier, and slowly, slowly, sets a little later every day. It may just be one minute… but it’s one minute that promises spring awaits us, in the vastness beyond Now.
The winter birds are still here, feeding, flying, nesting. In fact, as I wrote this, the sun just broke over the horizon and I watched as a small flock of birds flew from bare treetop to treetop, making their way across the land toward our feeders, where they now feast and flit about.
It snows in January. It’s hard to romanticize snow after the dumping we got last year (24+ inches, with literal tunnels of snow leading from car to house)…. but it’s also hard to not romanticize snow when it’s perfect: big fat Charlie Brown flakes, lazily descending to decorate the world. Or when you have a young child who shows you the magic around you that you never would have seen.
The first day it snowed in January, Pip and I walked in from the car and I showed her the snow on the ground. I picked it up, packed it, tossed it. I held her a piece.
“Cold,” I said. “Snow is cold.”
She touched it, tentatively. She knows cold. Then, with her mittened hands, she took the snowball and held it. She glanced at me. “Wet.”
“Yes, wet,” I said, incredulous. I hadn’t even thought of that.
The next day, most of the snow had melted. When we got out of the car, I noticed her looking to where we had picked up the snow the day before, which was now all grass.
“That’s right, Pip,” I told her. “The snow has melted! It gets warm during the day, from the sun, and the snow melts.” She repeated the new word, and pointed to the small piles of ice left on our lawn.
A few days later we got a bigger snow. We pulled her in the sled on the front lawn (she wasn’t too sure about that due to her lack of range of motion between her jacket and the puffy sled). We practiced walking in her boots over the sparkling snow. Daddy shoveled and she practiced pushing the shovel too. I kicked the fluffy snow in the air and she laughed and told me to do it again.
Then she and daddy made a snowman. It was Pip height. She mainly watched as he assembled, making magic appear right in front of her eyes.
When I got home from work that night, they were watching from the window. We waved and blew kisses hello, and then I realized Pip was also shouting and pointing behind me. I turned – the snowman. She wanted me to see the snowman. I mimed shock and awe and went inside to get my kisses.
The next day, the snowman was a small snow pile.
“Oh no, snow man!” she exclaimed when we got out of the car.
“Oh no! He melted!” I said.
“Sleeping,” she told me.
Then we stayed outside and poked the snow pile until our fingers were red and our noses were running.