by Tamara Hillman
January gets a bad rap, and I’m guilty of feeling it’s a ‘do nothing, blah month’ too. Think about it, Christmas is over, the tree is taken down, decorations put away for another year, kids are hating going back to school, weather is unsavory in ninety percent of the country, and even work is a bore, and somehow trivial. Now, I’m not knocking peace, rest, and quiet, but after the rush and glitter of the holidays, everything seems mute, and pales by comparison.
For us kids, back in my day though, January was not so bad, especially if we got that new sled or toboggan, skis, or ice skates we wished for, (or if the neighbor kids did since we shared everything) because there was always plenty of snow for outdoor games. We’d bundle up so heavily we could barely waddle just to get in an hour or two of play out in the bitter cold. We wore snowsuits that zipped us in like a baby bunting, unlike styles of today that are two-piece. I fear snow would have gotten underneath, and soaked into the many layers we wore beneath our suits: sweaters, pants, shirts, and long-handled underwear, because we literally rolled in the fluffy white snow. (God forbid one should have to go to the bathroom once you were zipped tightly inside that cozy suit).
Suspenders on pants with coats atop would never have worked. We even had rubber boots that snapped over at the top to hug the leg, and keep snow out, while the snowsuit also had elastic on leg bottoms and sleeves. The suits were hooded too so there were no gaps between collar and cap. We had gloves that could not come off either because a string connecting to the wristband of one mitten, then ran over the back of the neck and down the other side to connect to the other mitten, (these being put on before the suit was zipped up). I remember sweating inside this puffball of goose-down-filled covering even when temperatures were near or below zero degrees.
Yes, like the little guy in ‘A Christmas Story’, we were totally encased in our one-piece suits every bit as snuggly as any astronaut of modern times.
If I were to give kudos to January, it would be to say it was a good time on the farm to get reacquainted with folks. Chores, as far as working the land, were halted, and ladies would congregate to do quilting, crocheting, etc., while men met at different barns and tack rooms to oil saddles, bridles, harness, and the like for the coming spring’s work while they bemoaned the price of feed and beef. They also met at the old country feed store just to sit and jaw, or play cards—and they say women are the talkers of the sexes, but have you girls every sent your husband to town to pick up one item at the mercantile or grocery, and not seen him the rest of the day because (as he told it), he was catchin’ up with some buddies he ran into? Any ranch or farmer’s wife will tell you, it’s true, especially in winter months inbetween morning and evening chores!
Well, like I say, January is a blah month that has very little to talk about, so I’ll make this column short.