January is literally one of the darkest months of the year. While the shortest day of the year comes just before Christmas, we don’t seem to notice until we live through the next few months of more dark hours than light. In a mental and emotional sense, January can be a dark time as well. After the buzz of the holiday season is over, you have to make it through what I like to call the “holiday hangover” comprised of any and all of the following elements:

  • After a week or so of riotous living and overindulging in everything from the “special” eggnog to the Christmas fudge, you are now forced to retrench and reacquaint yourself with the concept of a vegetable that is not covered in dip of some kind.
  • The pile of to-dos that you managed to put off until after the holidays still has to be dealt with, and is it just me, or did it get bigger?
  • After the flurry of holiday get-togethers and visiting or being visited by family, your ears may still be ringing, and if you see a deck of Uno cards again in this life, it will be too soon.
  • All the Christmas decorations, which seem to have multiplied like festive little rabbits, have to be packed up and put away.
  • You have a giant Santa-shaped hole in your wallet. Have fun sorting those receipts.
  • The weather outside may be frightful, but you still have work to do and calving season to get ready for, so slip on that (slightly tighter) chore coat and let’s get going.

Aside from being the Monday morning of the year, January has plenty of good points to recommend it. It is typically a slightly slower period for most people (see previous list for reasons) so there is more time to declutter, organize and prepare for the year ahead. It’s also the time for all those bright, sparkly New Year’s resolutions to shine.

I’m pretty sure I have poked fun at New Year’s resolutions in this publication before, and if I haven’t here, I have everywhere else. While I have deep and abiding respect for any who can make and keep a New Year’s resolution – you are truly a different breed – I feel like New Year’s has morphed from a celebration of the start of a new year to another “greeting card” holiday celebrated with new gym memberships and strange office and exercise equipment from Amazon.

I’m a firm believer in starting where you are and going from there. I love this quote from James R. Sherman: “You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand-new ending.” I propose a different way of looking at resolutions. Rather than parrot the New Year’s mantra of “new year, new me,” I embrace “new day, new me” as not only more accurate, but more achievable. Instead of facing down a 365-day challenge, just look at it as making a better choice one day at a time. And if you don’t make it 24 hours without screwing up, just remember that “tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it” (L.M. Montgomery).


I wish you all the best as you head into 2024, and I especially wish you hope, healing and appropriate doses of ibuprofen as you deal with your holiday hangover.