Too few January holidays

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(Host) Commentator Willem Lange has been looking in vain for something pleasant about January. But at least he’s found a few interesting things to keep us going.

(Lange) It may be a long, long time, as the old song suggests, from May to December; but it’s nothing compared to the stretch from New Year’s to Valentine’s Day. It’s got one legal holiday; but I can’t think of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a holiday. The January Thaw is hardly a cause for celebration. The coldest time of the year is a little hard to warm up to.

The dog and I pause each morning to check the porch thermometer, and slide down the hill for the newspaper, with Orion and his dogs looking over our shoulders. Back up to the house; feed the furnace; fill the humidifier. Make the coffee and eat breakfast with my dour reflection in the kitchen windows.

I thought a movie might help, so we went to see The Return of the King. Gee! Frodo’s journey goes on forever, through stygian dangers and dark forces. Which brings me back to January in New England.

I found a whole list of January events on the Internet: the birthdays of Ethan Allen (10th), Robert E. Lee (19th), and Douglas MacArthur (26th); and Muhammed Ali (18th). On the 9th it’s Richard Nixon and Joan Baez; how’s that for a natural pair?

Then I tried January saints’ days. Once you get over the major international saints, like Peter, the Johns, and Patrick, each European country has one a day, like vitamins. Italy’s got Aldo, Modesto, and Liberata; France has Remi, Roseline, and Guillaume. I couldn’t find why they deserved the elevation; and the ones I could find died in such grisly ways – St. Sebastian (January 20th) stuck full of arrows and finally clubbed to death – that I gave it up.

The blender was invented on the 4th, basketball on the 15th, and Tupperware on the 23rd. Not exciting enough to overwhelm the effects of the winter’s coldest weather. Oral Roberts’ 86th doesn’t rise to the level of a celebration. Nor does Elvis’ 69th – hard to believe he was my age. Nor does Dolly Parton’s 58th – also hard to believe.

But there are some bright spots on the horizon. Mozart will be 248 years old on January 27; and the almanac says that by the end of the month we’ll have about an hour more of daylight than we had in mid-December.

It’s a good thing there aren’t more holidays in January. We have more things to do around here than we can possibly get done in the time available; there’s more daylight in which to do them; there’s anticipation of coming events that takes the edge off any current discomfort. And the middle of meteorological winter, Candlemas Day, is coming up in just over two weeks! The woodpile is right on schedule. We’re gonna make it!

This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, and I gotta get back to work.

Willem Lange is a contractor, writer and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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