As a month, January isn’t often listed as a favourite. Now, there are a million reasons for this, none of which I have any business whatsoever giving advice on. So I won’t do that. Instead, listed below are five potential reasons to find joy in a St Andrews January, whatever your general opinion of the month. Make of them what you will. Of course, I’d love if readers of this article could find within a reason to smile about the oft criticised month. However, if you just have something academic to be reading, are looking for a distraction and any old guff will do, well, you’re welcome too.
There’s nothing quite like some good ol’ fresh air. And this statement is not from someone you could call an “outdoorsy” person. Nor is it from someone who was out of bed bright and early this morning to savour said air. Nor from someone, if we’re honest, who had necessarily managed by the afternoon to get out of said bed. But anyway, whatever your routine, for many of us, just a few minutes of fresh air really can be quite wonderful. And if all fresh air is good, January air is, i.m.o., simply a cut above. Like a cool hand to soothe the forehead of someone who’s suffered a power cut in the middle of a Drag Race Finale Lip-sync, the icy-cool air of January seems to cleanse and refresh in a way that no other month can quite match. So whether you enjoy long periods outdoors, or just manage to get those few minutes when you remember to put the bins out (as I personally always remember to do... :/), I reckon the cool fresh air of a St Andrews January is well worth taking a moment to savour. (though please do remember I know nothing)
2. Scottish Winter more generally, which is a sufficiently different category from the last one
I really don’t understand why we’re so obsessed with the idea of snow at Christmas time. It rains at Christmas time. In Central Scotland, if there’s going to be real snow, it’s usually going to be in January or February. With it comes the possibility of igloos and snowpeople, snowangels and sledging. We are also, it must be said, lucky to be surrounded by fields, rolling hills, and handy paths through the ever-soothing countryside. Now, look, I’m not saying that it beats a blooming summer meadow, but there’s something about a snow-covered landscape that really is quite special. Even in the absence of thick snow, I would advocate the beauty of frost alone, how it glazes each little blade of grass, each little twig of each and every branch. Like a dusting of icing sugar over an otherwise dreary cake, Scottish January seems to know that a little sprinkle of magic is just enough to bring the place back to life.
3. New year, new you thing of your choosing
Now, I reiterate my earlier point about knowing nothing, but I would bet that many of us are all too familiar with resolving to do something at New Year which turns out to be completely unrealistic. So we’re not going to discuss that any further. What I could talk about for weeks, though, is the homogenising commercialism of the months before, and how it tries to push us all down the same path, pressuring us to prioritise this, appreciate that, put tinsel round the next thing, and so on. And while I have to confess that as a child I lived for the commodified promise of that time of year, as an adult, especially as a queer adult, I’ve come to love these few weeks of peace, in which the advertisers are quiet and some calmness can return. And it’s in this absence of business-y noise, I would argue, that January becomes the perfect month to think about something you’d like to do. It really can be just about anything. Those of you setting exercise goals, for example, training for marathons and doing other sportish things, go you! Those of you who have decided to finally get into drawing or painting, writing or performing, go you too! Seriously, whatever you might have decided to pursue this January, congratulations, and best of luck! This January, I’ve decided that I’ve been putting it off too long, enough is enough, and so I’m finally going to have a go at drinking peppermint tea. It may turn out to be the start of something amazing, a lifelong, inseparable bond. It may equally result in a box of nearly new Aldi peppermint tea bags (-1) being posted onto Facebook Marketplace. Either way, though, it doesn’t matter: it’s something I’d like to try, so, this January, I’m going to. You can too.
4. (Hopefully) regaining some freedom
Sometimes, life in The Bubble can seem impossibly restrictive. Not many shops, not many people, not a lot to do. Especially if you don’t like golfing trousers. For the queer person, however, what a return to Bubble dearest should provide is the space to be ourselves, and, for some of us, the peace of knowing that the challenges of the festive period are over for another wee while. So maybe January can actually be a month of unapologetic expression, whatever that means to you. Maybe it can be a month of finding each other as well as ourselves, of going to little gay events, of connecting with our energetic, bubbly (get it?!) little queer community. Hopefully it should at least be a month that brings security, in the knowledge that, through all the trials and tribulations of queer life, we are here to pick each other up. For many of us, this represents a better gift than anything we might find wrapped under a tree.
5. January’s inextricable connection to queer culture
The French word for January is janvier, which rhymes with gay, slay, and Conan Gray.
By Clio (they/she)