A huge caveat to start off this column: I don’t ski. I grew up and have lived most of my life in the Northwest, yet the closest I’ve ever come to downhill skiing is some awkward cross-country snowplowing as a kid, at that thrilling and terrifying moment when you realize your formerly flat trail is taking an inescapable slope downward, and your skis are about three times too long to navigate the hill with any degree of poise.
Anyway, I don’t ski. It’s a glaring hole in my Northwesterner resume, but that’s another column all together.
The reason I bring it up is because this current stretch of year we’re facing – January to mid-March – is, by far, the worst time of the year.
But I recognize that if you are, unlike me, a full Northwesterner who spends your wintery weekends skiing or snowboarding, these are wonderful months. So for all of you who fall into incomprehensible ecstasy over reports of “fresh powder,” or whatever, please ignore what I’m about to say.
January, February and March are dreadful, by most benchmarks. And there are two very easy benchmarks to judge the relative worth of various months: weather and holidays.
The weather will be horrible the next three months, certainly, but that doesn’t do much to separate this time of year from November and December, which are pretty great, month-wise.
No, it’s the dearth of any good holidays to look forward to that makes this part of winter feel especially bleak. There are a few days off from work, sure. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, if you’re observing it correctly, is a great opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer work, and Presidents Day has good sales at car dealerships.
Valentine’s Day inflicts too much misery on too many lonely people to count as a good holiday. We live in the wrong part of the country for Mardi Gras to mean anything. Chinese New Year can be fun, but then again, I was also very scared once by a dragon in a parade when I was a child.
By the time St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, things are looking up, but by then, it’s approaching spring, and this terrible time of the year is basically over.
We need a way to make it through until then.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to steel myself for the next several weeks of seasonal affective disorder, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
• Cocoa. Hot chocolate gets lumped in with Christmas, but there’s no reason it can’t soldier on until March with us. Too many good things get taken away once the holiday season is over; there’s no reason a delicious and warming beverage needs to leave us, too. It’s freezing out. Hot toddies and hot buttered rum also fit in this category.
• Sweaters. It’s statistically proven, probably, that the majority of Americans look better in sweaters. And because Christmas is over, I’m not talking ugly red-and-green-and-tinsel monstrosities, just some nice, warm, post-holiday-physique-concealing sweaters. Take advantage of looking sharp while you can, because, soon enough, it’ll be time for shorts, which only an infinitesimally small percentage of people can pull off.
• Brooding. Staring out a rain-soaked window and pondering the mysteries of the universe, and your place in solving them, is an entirely underrated activity. Not that you should be doing this all the time – then we’re getting into the seasonal affective disorder that we talked about earlier. But a nice brood every now and then does a body good. And it’s much harder in August, as sunshine and brooding do not mix well.
• The Seahawks. Russell Wilson and company seem to be on a determined mission to cure an entire region’s wintertime blues. And to win a Super Bowl, but some things are more important.Will Livesley-O’Neill can be reached at 253-358-4152 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_will.