For the Love of Nothing

An entire month devoted to . . . whatever

By Susan S.Kelly

I speak now for that silent minority who fear to voice, confess, or admit their glad anticipation for, their deep abiding love for, their eternal gratitude for . . .  January. Believe ye: there are those of us who crave every endless 31 days of a month so roundly dreaded by so many.

Bring it, baby.

For quad-A overachievers, list-makers, and borderline OCD peeps like myself, January is the season of somnolence, of letting go. For over-organized souls, nothing beats a full-on month of . . . nothing.

No holidays, and therefore no searching, purchasing, wrapping, hiding. No candy. No centerpieces. No costumes or cocktails. No (unspoken but acknowledged) competing for best dessert or coleslaw or fireworks or slalom or Easter basket or parade float. Personal bonus: no family birthdays.

No yard work. Everything is leafless, hideous, and charmless, and with any luck, will stay that way for six more weeks. The only outdoor chore is filling the feeder. No to-dos of raking, mowing — it’s too early to even prune. Nothing needs fertilizing, watering. Even kudzu is temporarily tamed to a crinkled, wrinkled weed. I’m so thankful it’s too early to force quince or forsythia; no sense of obligation there, and if you still force narcissus, I have a collection of lovely forcing vases and trays and even the rocks that you’re welcome to. Sorry, but I need to hold on to the gin that stiffens the stems. And I love my roses, but, boy, do I love when they’re whacked off and not producing, and therefore not accusing me of leaving them to grow blowsy and frowsy rather than cutting and delivering them to someone whose life, living room, and outlook would be improved by — oh, never mind. I may be the only person you know who gets depressed when the first bulbs begin blooming.

No fundraisers on PBS. This is huge.

Nothing at the farmer’s market equals absolution from waking early to haul yourself there, and trying to fairly spread your vegetable benevolence to several farmers with pleading eyes. Nothing edible locally means seasonal broccoli and citrus with unknown origins are just fine. As for other aspects of eating, in January it’s practically unpatriotic not to exist on semi-solid foodstuffs straight from your Crock-Pot. Go ahead, add another packet of taco mix to that pork butt, onion soup mix to that chuck roast, chili mix to that ground beef. Dow, Inc. knows: Better living through chemicals.

No campaigns, primaries, elections. No yard signs. No door-to-door, ’cause it’s too cold for solicitors, and if you haven’t gotten your subscriptions and wrapping paper by now, sorry. And altar guilds everywhere — Rejoice! and God rest ye merry gentlemen and women — no need for changing altar hangings and linens. Even at church, once you get past Epiphany, there’s a nice long stretch of nothing until the deprivations of Lent. As for resolutions, by mid-month they’re mostly moot, admit it.

Within the narrow demographic of January adorers, there’s an even smaller contingent: the snow lovers. For those of us dreamers, hopers, prayers and devotees of white stuff, January is the month during which those fervent desires are most likely to be fulfilled. For those who disloyally decamp for sunny Southern climes, desert isles, and ski slopes, all the better. Less car and foot traffic to mar the peaceful white perfection of a snowfall. Sorry, dear, I couldn’t get to the grocery store for supper supplies. Feel free to scrape whatever’s left in the . . . Crock-Pot.

It occurs to me that, were I ever to get a face-lift, January would be an opportune time.

Isn’t it divine to go to the movies and catch up on all those blockbusters you missed and get just the seat you want? Because no one else is there. Plus, you’re exonerated from even going to the movies: Everybody knows nothing Oscar-worthy is released between January and March.

Not that I encourage sloth, far from it. January is the month made for domestic industries, with the iPod blasting in your ears and no fear of anyone catching you atonally belting tunes with Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift. Consolidate coupons, cull the catalogs, schedule your spanking, sparkling pristine new calendar with all the birthdays you forgot last year. Polish silver. Then, transfer your earbuds to your laptop, scoot your socked feet to the fire, and proceed to unabashedly binge Netflix, knowing you’ve earned and are entitled to The Right to Relax.

Oh, poor despised, derided month, that span of gloom and chill, so scorned and shunned by humanity, I’ll be there for you, bundled and content, cheering you on. Hermits, unite. We knew what Oscar Wilde really was referring to when he uttered, “the love that dare not speak its name” — we few, we happy few, who wallow, with glee, in January.  OH

Susan Kelly is a blithe spirit, author of several novels, and proud new grandmother.

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