Getting through January with Joy

A few years ago, we started making a magnet with the quote, “I’m not bossy, I just have better ideas”, and I always thought, “that’s me!” I just tend to be the person in my family with a scheme for our next grand (or modest) adventure. I’ve found that January is the month when we all need little plans, schemes and adventures the most. The sad reality is that Christmas, with all its buzz, energy and excitement, is over. The tree is well and truly dead, and the decorations must come down and be packed away for next year. In our house, the difference can be so stark and the house can feel so empty. This year, more than ever, I found myself with a case of the January blues and decided that I needed to make an effort to embrace the month.

My first thought was that although Christmas is over, winter isn’t and decorations don’t have to be either. So once the Christmas tree had come down, I decided to set up what my family is now calling the “winter tree” (although it is really a branch). Here on Saltspring we have arbutus trees with beautiful red and burnt orange bark, and I looked for an arbutus branch with an interesting shape that was big enough to make an impact. I positioned the branch in an old metal bucket, using big stones to hold it in place, and covered the stones with moss. Next, I wound tiny battery-operated lights around the branches and used a few of my woodland ornaments (glass birds and a felt owl) to decorate them. We have decided that this is the start of a new family tradition and I highly recommend setting up a “winter tree” to keep some of the glow and magic of Christmas flowing into the New Year.

This year, as always, I also spent some time “playing house”, which just means rearranging a bit. While it’s something I like to do all year round, there is really no better time than right after cleaning up Christmas. It’s amazing how often Don will ask if something is new and I answer, “no, just moved”. A little change can make a big impact! In January, in particular, it’s  important to add a bit of coziness in your day-to-day life. Leave a few strings of twinkly lights, light candles and make a fire in your fireplace (even if that just means turning on the gas). For even more coziness, wear wool clothes and fuzzy slippers, and eat warm homemade soup. It just feels so good!

With even less travel and fewer obligations than normal this January, Don and I have decided to really sink into our home life. I would recommend going to the library and getting a stack of books to put by your bed (and then going to bed early so you can read them - that’s my favourite part!). It’s also a great time to get some puzzle outs. Did you forget to send out Christmas cards last year? This year, I’m trying to write a few letters to friends just for the heck of it. It is such a great feeling to put a stamp on an envelope and drop it in a mailbox, and an even better feeling to receive old-fashioned mail! 

While I am loving cozying up this January, I know that I always feel great after being outside. This year we’ve had tons of snow and rain, but as they say, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing! While New Years is typically the time everyone joins the gym, I think it’s hard to beat a good walk. It feels great to breathe fresh air and, if you can, get out into nature. I have never returned from a walk and thought “well that was a bad idea”. So don’t overthink it! Just do it! And I promise your house will feel even cozier when you’ve returned.                       

 While I love making lists, plans and goals, I find that my goals tend to involve doing more of the things I already know that I love. This year, I have decided to branch out a little - my one new “thing” is to learn Italian. I’ve found a great app and am now trying to make this a part of my daily routine. I’ll let you know how it goes! But for this month, anyway, my main goal is to take it a bit easy, create a space that lifts the spirits, and get outside. 

I wish you all a warm and cozy January and a great start to the year. Best of luck in pursuing whatever dreams and goals you may have for 2022!

Suzanne Zacharias,
Co-Founder & Head Tea Drinker, Cedar Mountain Studios

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