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Around the bend: A new year brings hibernation time

I’m not opposed to New Year’s resolutions. I just don’t think Jan. 1 is a good time to start anything that requires self-motivation.
In Vermont, the deepest part of winter is just beginning. People may feel obligated to make New Year’s resolutions to exercise and lose weight and get organized, but right now all anyone really wants to do is curl up on the couch and eat. Anything. With extra butter.
Even my cat gets fat in January.
If I’m going to make New Year’s resolutions, I’d like to do it at a less depressing time of year, when the sun is shining. When I have energy. When I can feel my toes.
The more annoying among us will insist January is the perfect time to make resolutions because they help fight your natural tendencies during the winter to hibernate and eat your body weight in lasagna. But what’s so great about fighting your natural tendencies? Mine — to stay as warm and inactive as possible and to bolster myself against the cold with extra calories — top my list of favorite winter pastimes.
January is better suited to hunkering down than to getting things done. It’s just so hard to move at this time of year. In a real sense, this is due to wearing heavy boots and restrictive, arctic-weight long johns, but there are other reasons.
Maybe you’re suffering from post-holiday letdown. Maybe you’re still licking the wounds sustained during holiday family gatherings. For me, sunlight deprivation overwhelms me with the urge to sleep until spring, only waking now and then to eat the occasional bowl of cream cheese frosting.
You don’t feel good about yourself in January. Christmas has left your bank balance down and your jeans uncomfortably tight. You’re pasty, with dry, itchy skin. You’re bundled up in so many layers, even if you did manage to get down to your goal weight you wouldn’t be able to tell. (Not that there would be enough natural light to see by anyway.)
Technically, the days started getting longer almost a month ago. But going from, oh, 22 hours of darkness to 21 hours and 47 minutes of darkness is not enough to make a person feel like jumping out of bed with a can-do attitude.
Mother Nature uses snow, cold and wind chill to make her position clear: Don’t risk frostbite or a car accident by going outside or driving to the gym. Better you should stay home, watch movies and eat a pie.
I have another reason not to fight January sluggishness: Last year, my husband and I made great strides towards self-sufficiency in terms of raising our own meat and growing our own food. It’s a wonderful and satisfying way of life, especially for people who like blisters, sweat, dirt, manure, bugs, sore muscles and backbreaking labor that takes up every spare minute between April and October.
But last fall, when I set the last of 48 jars of tomatoes on the pantry shelf — actually, a few minutes later, after I had recovered from a brief sobbing jag brought on by exhaustion and relief — I vowed I would take a long break. And now I’m taking it. I refuse to let New Year’s resolutions interfere with my well-earned hiatus from doing anything remotely productive.
I’m giving in to the natural sloth of the season, guilt-free. The way I see it, January should be a month to roll over, preferably under a down comforter, not to fight back. Hole up with a good book — or Kindle or iPod or whatever people hole up with these days — bring on the comfort foods and save the New Year’s resolutions for a gentler time of year.
I’m designating my birthday, in March, as the start of my own personal New Year. By then, the sun will make more than a half-hearted effort to stay above the horizon. Even the heaviest snowfalls won’t hang around for long. And, best of all, the pure self-loathing I’ll be feeling at having spent the past three months wallowing in laziness and gluttony will inspire me to tackle my resolutions with gusto.
What do you think? What day would you pick to start your New Year’s resolutions? I’d love to hear your opinions on this.
Wake me up in two months and we’ll talk.

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