On the first Monday of 2004, last January, I remember sitting at my corporate desk job at 8:15 a.m. I had just had many wonderful days off for the holidays and was now going through the "withdrawal" feeling of getting up early again and having to be at my job which I disliked. I stared at the calendar and counted how many months there were before the next long weekend. Almost 5 months away! How was I supposed to bear such a long, unbroken period of relentless workdays? I remembered that ever since childhood I'd always hated January: all the lights and decorations going dark, returning to school (or work), the bleakness of that no-holiday stretch of calendar. Cowering there at my suckrat job made me feel like such a cog in the wheel and although I hate being a cliché, I have to say I hated that Monday.
I now suspect that the worst thing about Christmas being over is that I have always had a tendency to expect Christmas to fulfill all my needs and make me happy. Of course every year Christmas Day fails to solve all my problems and make me happy, and that leads to this awful post-Christmas hangover. I've always seen the end of Christmas as the end of hope that I might be happy, and I've viewed January as a sentence to be served. (I like the words of a poet I once saw perform: "Your sentence is not knowing what your sentence is.")
BUT! This year is completely different. This year I took the sting out of the holidays when I realized how much I need gifts to make me feel loved and happy, so I bought myself some gifts. My Christmas presents to myself were getting Tivo and my first ever cell phone. I felt happy. I felt loved. And now I have this great job that I enjoy, so January doesn't intimidate me. This year I can see the great things that are in my life and I can see that they'll continue way past the holidays. In fact, there's no link at all between Christmas and my feeling of contentedness. The wonderful holidays are over? No problem. I'm spending this first Monday of 2005 enjoying my day off, and tomorrow I'll go to work. I'm looking forward to it!