Every year after Christmas has passed and we are all returning to our regular routines and the Christmas decorations are put back in the attic and our area of the country is brown and gray, I feel really down in the dumps. I try to exercise and eat right and read some new books and maybe take the children to a museum or an event and pray every day. But the lack of sunshine, the cold weather, and the cloudy gray days take their toll, and I just feel like curling up under a blanket with a good book, another cup of coffee, and sitting all day in my comfy chair. And then I feel guilty for not accomplishing much of anything and for neglecting my New Year's resolutions and for going into hibernation.
This week, however, I think I have figured out how to beat the January blues. While the children were still out of school on winter break, we got together with friends---something we've been meaning to do for months and months, but life always seems to get too busy that we never got around to it. One day we had a family from our old school come to snack and play. As ten children ran through our house laughing and having a wonderful time, my mom friend and I sat and talked over a cup of tea and leftover snacks from Christmas. On New Year's Eve, another family from our homeschooling days rang in the New Year with us until well after midnight. I can't tell you the last time my husband and I were able to stay awake long enough to welcome in a new year. But this year, our house was full of life and wine and food, and it felt so good. On New Year's Day, another family from our old parish invited us to have dinner with them at their house. Once again, we so enjoyed time together catching up, sharing stories and laughter, great food, and wine. And last night, my husband and I finally went to dinner with a couple from our old homeschool group. It was the first time that I can remember going to a restaurant on a double date without children and it not being with extended family. It felt like such a luxurious treat, and we will definitely have to do it again. When we got home last night and walked to our front porch under a rare clear, starlit sky, I could feel that this January is off to a great start.
This past week has shown me that no matter how dismally gray and brown everything looks around me, and no matter how cold or wet or muddy it is outside, time with friends makes life so much brighter. I spend a lot of time throughout the year thinking that I should call up friends and invite them over. But it always feels like there are obstacles to overcome: children's activities, overflowing baskets of laundry, a kitchen floor that desperately needs refinished, a yard that needs raked, dust on the bookshelves, hallways that need repainted. During this week, I pushed those thoughts aside and just enjoyed sharing time with people we love. I'm sure that in the end, they aren't going to remember the unfinished projects or dust or clutter at my house or in my life more than the conversations, the laughter, and the connections that occurred when we all spent time together. I must not let my perfectionist nature prohibit us from building and maintaining friendships that make life so much richer, especially at this dreary time of year.
So for all my dear friends that shared a few hours of their time with us recently, thank you for showing me a way out of the January doldrums. For those of you I haven't yet seen, don't be surprised if you receive a phone call or email soon with an invitation to get together somewhere and do something this month. I can't promise things will be Pinterest-perfect, but I am sure we'll brighten each others' days.