The Roadtripper: from Western Illinois Family Magazine
There's something about January.
Christmas is over.
Carefully, regretfully, we take down the holiday decorations that have brightened our homes and pack them away for another year. The house seems bare. The house seems quiet again.
Outside, the north wind blows and it snows and snows.
There is no sign of spring, no chance of it for weeks and weeks, for even a January thaw is merely a brief respite between winter blasts.
But in the midst of the cold, dark January days and nights comes little blessings.
Hot coffee. Warm socks. A car that starts in the morning.
The landscape takes on a shining grey-white sheen that is stark and surreal and splendid all at once.
Children pull on Christmas skates and whirl and fall and laugh and scream on bumpy circles of ice, while grownups toughen to the cold and walk in the frigid air, laughing and talking and remembering snow days and yesterday's sledding thrills down breakneck hills.
Slowly, we awaken to the possibilities.
Places to go, people to see, things to do.
But there's no rush, no holiday deadlines. You are, once again, able to move at a pace more to your liking and do what you want to do.
And if you really do want to do more than gaze out the window and sip hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire, here are a few ideas...
• Build a igloo with the neighborhood kids, making blocks by packing snow into a medium-sized box.
• Help your kids set up a hot cocoa stand on your corner.
• Read the book you got for Christmas.
• Shovel your neighbor's sidewalk.
• Set up a "Birds' Christmas Tree" in your backyard by decorating your discarded tree with strung popcorn and berries, and any stale leftover breads, cakes and cookies from the holidays.
• Make a reasonable New Year's resolution and actually stick to it.
• Organize an all-day "film festival" with friends and family, with each person sharing their favorite movie on DVD.
• Make homemade soup, bake bread, or do both, just for the wonderful way it makes your house smell.
• Invite friends over to share it.
If you're looking for things to do beyond your own hearth and home, it's Children's Month at the Galesburg Civic Art Center, with opportunities for kids to create and display their work. Other Galesburg-area activities for January include a performance by the world-famous Luther College Nordic Choir, a Magic Tea Party and a Toy Story party, the Galesburg Symphony Society's Tenth annual Casino Night Gala & Silent Auction, International Fest at Knox College, and a January Luau at Sandburg Mall. The Galva Arts Council's second-Saturday coffeehouse provides a warm circle of light, music and laughter every month.
Some say January is the longest, coldest month of all. I say, it can only be that way if you let it.