January is a tough month to blog for. The warmth Christmas gives to winter is long gone, leaving us with pretty much just plain old, dismal winter: short, cold days sandwiched between my favorite December-month and the inspiration I’ve already got cooking for a February packed with Valentines ideas, coming up with January posts feels a lot like waiting in line. While I’m waiting though, I was trying to think of what January is known for. November has Thanksgiving; December, Christmas; October, Halloween; September, back to school; Spring months have Easter, freshness, and re-birth. The summer months are packed with sunshine, outdoors, pools, and bathing suits. But January…? Cable-knit perhaps? Hot drinks, afghans, and mittens? Then I had it…counting! We love to countdown in January. We count down the last hours, minutes, and seconds to January first, buy new calendars, re-evaluate plans, take deep breaths, and try and make a whole new year look much more manageable by breaking it down into countable moments: two months ’till spring, five ’till summer, uh-oh, 350 days until Christmas. Three days ’till Friday, one ’till Wednesday, oh if I can just make it four until Saturday. Numbers, time, crossing things off, writing things down, schedules, and re-setting what all came crashing down when the Holidays began.
We thrive off schedules: knowing what to do and when to do it gives automatic comfort, security, sometimes monotony, but usually relief. I can take my countdowns a little too seriously though. Setting expectations and time-frames are always a good idea, but when they are unrealistic and un-bending, that’s when you get yourself into trouble.
In Jane Austen’s first published novel, Northanger Abbey, the heroine Catherine Moreland is a girl quite unsatisfied with her countdowns, for “she had reached the age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion, and without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate and very transient” (Austen, Northanger Abbey). Obsessed with gothic novels, she lives in a dream world that seems so much more exciting than the everyday life of her small village. When she at last gets the chance to venture outside the tiny town she grew up in, she expects unrealistic things. She anticipates sudden, grand romance, fame, fortune, and intrigue, and when it doesn’t happen right away, she begins to force things. She reads into the smallest, silliest occurrences and exaggerates reality into unrealistic fiction. Only when she learns patience and a contentedness with her current reality does she learn that you can’t always set-up a countdown to success, happiness, or adventure. Sometimes, calendars are best for doing laundry, for making sure the bills are paid, for remembering when the garbage goes out, and, sure, for looking forward to the next vacation. But don’t let countdowns make you live for “one day” instead of living for today. You might be surprised, for even Catherine didn’t expect “to begin perfect happiness,” with her love, Henry Tilney “at the respective ages of 26 and 18” (Austen, Northanger Abbey). As soon as she stopped counting down to her next adventure, she started living rather happily in her everyday.
While you’re learning to live happily in your everyday though, keep track of all your to-do’s and essential countdowns on these adorable calendars I found on Etsy. Flapperdoodle is quite possibly my new favorite Etsy shop for all things paper. I stumbled across this 1920’s style calendar that inspired this whole post and instantly fell in love. The calendar comes in a pre-printed form, or you can get the PDF that the shop owner Kate Gabrielle simply emails to you to print at your leisure for only $5.00! The second calendar is an adorable one from HelloSmallWorld. I could face any to-do with these little guys staring back at me each month:
Hope this helps your January countdowns. Hopefully your month will become known for something better than just crossing off days. Good luck!
– <3 A.
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