There can’t be excellence without there also being abomination; it’s a rule of nature.
May 1, July 4, Sept. 26? They’re usually pretty good days to be alive. But Jan. 2, the day after New Year’s Eve and the high season of hangovers? Not so much.
Julius Caesar and later Pope Gregory XIII arranged the calendar so the shortest and darkest days would fall at the end of the year and at the beginning of the next one. And the mother of all ugly days is just now peeking over the southern horizon.
The sun will rise at 8:08 this morning and set at 5:16 this afternoon. That’s nine hours and eight minutes of daylight.
And what are you going to do with all that sunlight? Freeze, that’s what.
Why does Jan. 2 even qualify as a day? The only possible activities are taking down the Christmas tree and decorations — and won’t that be fun? — or paying a plumber on golden time to thaw your frozen pipes.
And there’s worse to come: Sunday, Jan. 2, is going to be followed by Monday, Jan. 3. I looked it up.
In the realm of catatonic depression, can you conceive of anything worse than the first Monday in January?
Easter is 111 days away — nearly four months distant. Most of us won’t have another paid holiday until May 30 — 147 days, or five months, removed. And in case you’re wondering, winter still has 76 days — 2 1/2 months — to run.
Living through Jan. 3 is like standing on the Oregon Coast, getting ready to swim across the Pacific Ocean and knowing the nearest landfall is Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, 5,248 miles over the horizon.
There’s only one sensible response to the first week in January: Make it a holiday.
Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas then (Friday is Christmas Day in the Eastern Christian calendar). So while the rest of us will be mumphing about dead car batteries and cranky cold, they’ll be feasting on walnut poteca, koulourakia (Greek holiday cookies), medianyk (Slavic Christmas cake), and outsized portions of vodka.
A celebrant in the Eastern Orthodox tradition doesn’t even think about dieting until mid-January, three full weeks after you’ve joined Jenny Craig. Which of you has a better January, I wonder?
Caesar and Pope Gregory both lived in Rome, which despite the PR you’ve heard generally has miserable Januaries. The city is located at the same latitude as Mongolia, and is prone to freezing rain from storms coming off the Tyrrhenian Sea. Caesar used that as an excuse to go to war in more tropical climes; Gregory just cut to the chase and scrapped the Julian calendar.
Four hundred years later, the French novelist Collete called January “the month of empty pockets.”
She got that right. Can I borrow 20 bucks until February? I gotta go find a tanning booth.
Steve Crump is the Times-News Opinion editor. Hear him Fridays at 8:30 a.m. on KLIX-1450 AM.