What’s Bringing You Joy in January?

Rachel: Inauguration Day! Without getting too much into politics, there is much to celebrate today. My two daughters get to watch the first woman and person of color become our Vice President. Joseph Biden has worked in public service for over forty years and will try to unite the country. Our environment also receives a new fighting chance that is desperately needs. (Photo source: Billboard.com)

Skiing! I love sharing that I started skiing my 30s. It all began when my older daughter learned through school and wanted someone to take her on weekends. People seem to love it, and it was an opportunity for some outside time with my child, so I learned. Let it be known that I am not a naturally athletic person; it wasn’t the kind of experience where I put on skis and started magically gliding down the mountain. I was nervous and scared but I did it. Now I can ski the easy slopes and LOVE it. Due to Covid, and a general aversion to crowds, we sneak away for a few hours during the week (I’m lucky that my day-job is flexible) and I sometimes go alone. It’s such a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and time with nature during the colder months. I recognize it’s a pricey sport but much of our gear is used and weekday half-day prices tend to be cheaper.

Take-out and movie night! I think many of us have seen our usual joys fall out of reach this year. My daily life melded into a routine of cooking, cleaning and entertaining others. Enter take-out and movie night. I know that take-out gets a negative reputation because there is a lot of waste involved. Pre-Covid, I’d go to restaurants and bring my own tupperware for leftovers. But I’m not doing indoor dining right now and they need our help. So once a week, my family orders from a small local place, we support our community, get a break from cooking and receive some joy. But all of those containers! What should we do? Many of them will just become instant trash. Try your best to reuse them as much as possible. They are great for freezing leftovers in order to prevent food waste.

Some leftover chocolate chip pancakes that will be happily eaten another day

Hannah:

The First Day of (my) New Year! I’m lucky enough to have a birthday close enough to the New Year to feel like my year and the New Year start simultaneously. I like to take some time between the New Year and my birthday to get my shit together and to reflect on how I want to learn and grow. It’s a good chance to think about who I am and who I want to be. I was so lucky to be able to spend some time outside around the fire with people I love to celebrate and to receive some lovely low- and zero-waste gifts. For example, my parents are having my antique typewriter repaired in Portsmouth and my husband gifted me the time to do the New Hampshire Master Gardeners program (I still have to get in!) and a list of “52 Reasons I Appreciate You”. My sister gifted me a lovely new houseplant and friends gave me candles, a very clever knife, a delicious apple bread, homemade jam and salsa, some very kind letters, and a gift certificate to Lilise. I felt very celebrated, but still light.

Pond Skating! I grew up next to a pond in southern New Hampshire and I have lots of wonderful memories of skating on the pond with my family. My sister and I used to created choreographed dances to the Lion King Sound track and, later, have very messy ice hockey games with our neighbors (no one owned hockey skates, pads, or a proper stick – mine was left-handed – and several of us didn’t know how to stop without turning around or grabbing onto cattails). Last week we took the kids skating on my parents’ pond and I loved watching them enjoy the same simple pleasure I did as a child. My husband is an amazing hockey player and he brought my toddler on lots of wild spinning rides around the pond. My older kids are both quickly surpassing my ability on the ice and I love watching them learn.

Reading! As much as I love being outside in the winter, I also enjoy snuggling up with a good book. Luckily, my kids do too. We’ve been enjoying lots of classics this year as part of their homeschool and I’m really enjoying revisiting old favorites, like the Secret Garden, the Wind and the Willows, and Peter Pan (I have found wonderful illustrated copies of these books online, pre-loved). Personally, I am reading A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s new book about his political career. It’s been truly eye-opening to read about how muddled and muddling politics are behind the scenes. My dad warned me from a young age – I was voted most likely to be President in elementary school – that politics was a rough go and now I see why. But Obama was able to maintain his integrity and his sense of humor somehow and Biden wants to do it again, so maybe there is hope for our country. Very excited to watch the Inauguration today. I am very excited for my children to see Kamala Harris take her oath.

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