January Me

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january It happens every year. The first of November rolls around, and my social feeds, calendar, and brain are flooded with all things holiday. I welcome the return of Christmas movies, cute school performances, traditions, and time spent with family. With mixed emotions, I put on the invisible but oh-so-heavy holiday hat that’s been worn by mothers everywhere for generations. I take a deep breath and open the spreadsheet containing the extensive shopping lists, gift ideas, and holiday card addresses. I stare at my December calendar, challenging myself to an advanced game of Tetris.

When do ticket sales begin?

How many do I need for this one?

This conflicts with the dance recital, maybe the Thursday before Christmas would work?

I begin to shop online, doing my best to track items as they arrive and wrap in late-night shifts. In the blur of the next several weeks, dozens and dozens of items will pass in and out of our home. Come Christmas morning, seeing the joy on their faces is a beautiful thing. Knowing you made it, there’s a moment of reflection amidst the sea of shredded wrapping paper. Every gift purchased and wrapped. Every event planned and attended. Cookies baked, movies watched, and magic created.

For me, that exhale is so satisfying. But every year, I wake up on December 26th overwhelmed as wave two washes over. A full week into the kids being home from school, the laundry and dishes start to snowball on me. The gifts they were so fortunate to receive tower over the kitchen table. A mountain of boxes hovers near the garage door. Our beautiful holiday decorations suddenly crowd the living room, giving me a feeling of claustrophobia among hundreds of Legos, puzzle pieces, and Barbie accessories. Each year, I feel guilty for this feeling. My beautiful kids just want me to play with them. To open each new item and experience it through their shiny little eyes. I stop and lay on the floor with them, and the house gets even worse. I try to relax and know that the feeling will pass. January me is on the way.

As the seconds count down to midnight on the 31st, Christmas me passes the baton. January me starts fresh. She takes down the Christmas decor, vacuums each pine needle, and wipes away all the glitter. January me sweeps through the house with a renewed sense of motivation, editing what we really want in our home, making room for the new, and donating the rest. She kisses her babies as they head back into their routines so she can get back to her own. January me stares into the simplicity of the next few months, making room for new focuses. She drinks more water. She prioritizes exercise and sleep. January me says no when she needs rest. She slows down and hibernates with her family as they set their sights on the joys of spring.

January me is lighter. There’s a delicious sense of minimalism in the depths of Midwest winter, and I plan to capitalize on it.

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