January is closer than you think (plus Friday thoughts)

The end of the year is an arbitrary thing. December 31, 2018 is a Monday and January 1, 2019 is a Tuesday. Many people have these days off from work and school, but Wednesday January 2 is going to be a normal day. Since all sorts of pedestrian activities get scheduled 2-3 weeks out, it is not remotely strange to be sending an invite for a conference call on January 3rd.

And yet it seems like a different universe. It feels like there is some huge gap of time between now and then, and that if I have something I am supposed to do on January 10th, it is eons in the future, as opposed to just under four weeks from now. One example: my youngest child turns 4 in mid-January. He would like to have a birthday party. A month before my middle two children’s fall birthdays, I had definitely thought about when and where the parties would be. Indeed, I’m pretty sure I’d booked venues. But in my mind right now it will never be January. Because January happens in an entirely different year.

I don’t know how to explain this mental block. I’m studying it from a detached angle, because I know that I’m a rather future-focused person and probably some folks (probably not a small number of folks) don’t get themselves worked up about the logistical details of a Tuesday five weeks in the future. The future is tabula rasa. I’m not sure that this unclear picture of the future is liberating, though. To me it feels unsettling. Perhaps this is the fundamental personality difference between those of us who are “Js” vs. “Ps” in the Myers-Briggs. I don’t feel like my lack of attention to January means freedom and possibility. I feel like with two working, traveling parents and four kids with their various activities, it’s inviting a train wreck.

Have you thought through January yet?

In other news: My husband’s office Christmas party theme is “old-fashioned Christmas.” What does this mean I am supposed to wear? A bonnet? (He suggested a corset).

I did two small non-work, non-kid adventures this week. I’m trying to take advantage of December’s relative slowness on my speaking calendar (only 3 engagements!) to do some fun stuff. On Tuesday, I went to a lunchtime harpsichord recital. It turns out that Temple University has an early music program, in which people learn to play actual historic instruments. So I listened to a professor perform. Then on Wednesday I saw what I think was a tiny harpsichord in the Winterthur doll house. I saw an ad for the Yuletide decorations at Winterthur, a historic du Pont residence in Delaware, with a note about an 18-room dollhouse that was done up for the holidays. So I got my timed tour ticket and went. I have to say, the tour was probably not something I’d go out of my way to do again. Our guide was lovely and knowledgeable, but historic furniture, and tales of some wealthy heir’s munificence are not really my thing. Also, the doll house was separate from the tour, which I didn’t figure out until afterwards. So by the time my hour-long tour was done, I had just a few minutes to go look at the doll house before I needed to hustle home for kid activities. It had some nice touches: a Nutcracker doll in the library (by two leather chairs that look like my library leather chairs!), little wrapped presents under a tiny tree decorated with even tinier candy canes, embroidered rugs and tapestries, and a tiny little harpsichord-looking instrument tucked in by the staircase. This doll house was modeled on Queen Mary’s rooms in Windsor (which I also saw this year!) and while not quite as spectacular, was still pretty cool.

My kids started writing to Sassy, our house elf on the shelf. They leave notes for him (or possibly her?) and so Sassy has been answering. Apparently she (or possibly he?) used to visit a family in Texas before coming to our family after all those children grew up. The children have been trying to guess what Sassy’s prior name was. Sassy’s only hint (so far) is that it’s a name that also appears in the children’s family tree. Stay tuned!

I’m singing in a Christmas concert this weekend at my church. My voice is slowly returning. Several different versions of O Magnum Mysterium: Lauridsen, Higdon, Poulenc, Pinkham…




7 thoughts on “January is closer than you think (plus Friday thoughts)

  1. My son will turn four a month after yours. I learned after the first two birthdays to put a note in my December calendar to start planning his birthday party, otherwise there will not be one. Fortunately, he was too little to understand for those first two birthdays that a last-minute dinner at the local Cuban restaurant with a few relatives who live nearby is not a typical little-kids’ party!

  2. We have a hugely important work conference the 2nd week of January. So as much as I prefer to use December for long-term planning and wrapping up the calendar year, we’re thick in the prep for the conference. It’s a weird mental leap, I’ll give you. But it’s one we have to make.

  3. Oh yes! And for us, Christmas is the beginning – my older daughter’’s birthday is January 3, which is far too close and also must be a long ways away. Which reminds me I’d better figure her party out this weekend because I won’t even be able to get in touch with anyone by the end of next week. Sigh. And #2’s (first!) birthday is the first week in February. I’ve actually shifted the year so my “new year” starts in February because otherwise between the holidays and birthdays it’s overwhelming and I don’t feel ready for any kind of a fresh start until it’s over.

  4. We live in New Zealand where businesses pretty much close down over Christmas and January. My husband works in the telecommunications industry and his entire organisation with thousands of employees are forced to take annual leave from the 21st of December until the 14th of January and children only go back to school in February. So real summer holiday feel this time of the year.

  5. Yep – the ‘that’s next year and therefore a long way in the future’ effect is very much amplified ‘down under’ where Christmas and New Year also mean summer vacations and then the start of a new school year. I have an early January birthday so that also amplifies the ‘new year, fresh start’ feeling. For better or for worse I have two family members with late December birthdays so at least my birthday marked the end of an amplified festive season, rather than being forgotten.

  6. January is generally a busy month for my family, and my calendar is already filling up with appointments and activities. 2019 is also milestone birthdays for my oldest son and me. He is a New Year’s baby. We always celebrate him at our annual New Year’s Day dinner. This is how he likes it. He will be turning 30. My birthday is January 11th, and I’m turning 50. Yikes! How does that happen? HA! I’m actually excited and have decided to throw myself a birthday party the next day. I did this for my 40th and had so much fun with my family and friends. So, why not do it again for my 50th. While this event will be on the heels of the holidays, I plan to use my time off from school very wisely. I’m an educator and a planner; so I’ll have a nice chunk of time to devote to wrapping up holiday plans and getting ready for my party.

  7. I think January feels so far away because you have the abyss of Christmas vacation between now and then. I always feel like I completely check out when the routine changes and then have to completely reorient myself when everything resumes in January. My husband even gets that time off every year which makes it even worse because we can’t limp along on just his routine over those two weeks. My planning for the two weeks of Christmas vacation is completely different than my normal planning. It’s just that way.

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