January is the perfect time to get a good deal on a Christmas tree.

January is when we realize Canada’s major exports are cold fronts.

I have a favorite cereal bowl. It’s plain in color. It might be beige. It has no cartoon characters on it. I like bowls better than bowl games. Here’s a tip for you, never order a plate of soup. I’d just polished off a bowl of oatmeal when a caller asked, “How’s it going?”

Questions don’t get much more complicated than that. I told him I was still amazed by carbon paper. I nodded sagely after saying that. The caller couldn’t see me, so I had to tell him I was nodding sagely. I added what Charles Lamb said, “New Year’s Day is everyman’s birthday.” I nodded sagely once more. He (the caller, not Charles Lamb) asked if I’d made any resolutions. Last year, I made three New Year’s resolutions. Never buy shoes that aren’t comfortable, save good cardboard boxes and spend more time at home. I bought no footwear, I squirreled away several dandy boxes and the pandemic tethered me to the Batt Cave. Woot woot! I’m all dressed down with nowhere to go. This year, I’ve resolved to not get gout from eating boiled pig snout.

I suspect a higher-than-usual number of people stayed up to welcome 2021. Probably not to see the new year in, but to make sure 2020 left. 2020 had a desperate need for attention. In Spain, they recommend not abusing a year until it has passed. In Iceland, a good year is always welcome. L.P. Hartley wrote, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

January is where pessimism can blossom. A fair day in winter is the mother of a storm. A nice winter day is a borrowed day, to be repaid with interest later. Folklore has some validity, but can be like amateur taxidermy. It’s difficult to identify.

The month of January is like a gentleman — as he begins, so he goes on. The weather of the first 12 days of January forecasts the weather for the next 12 months. Jan. 2 portends the weather in February, Jan. 3 foretells the March weather, etc. A January fog will freeze a hog or a dog or both.

If New Year’s Eve the wind blows south, it betokens warmth and growth. If west, much milk and fish in the sea. If north, cold and storms there will be. If east, the trees will bear much fruit. If northeast, then flee it, man and brute. If this doggerel doesn’t provide the forecast you want, have a do-over on New Year’s Day.

Ezvid Wiki, a video, software and media company, polled 3,000 people to find out which month of the year is the gloomiest. Minnesotans overwhelmingly voted January as the worst month of the year in the misery index. Ezvid Wiki analyzed 36 years of weather data to identify the statistically coldest and wettest day in January — it’s the 8th.

The National Retail Federation estimates that around $309 billion worth of merchandise was returned in 2019, accounting for about 8 percent of total sales. An estimated two-thirds of giftees return an item. That Federation expects 13 percent of gifts bought during the 2020 holiday season will be returned. I’m better at regifting than returning.

I remember being a lad with a driver’s license. A cow had told me the weather would be fair. I shouldn’t have listened to her. Most cows are as honest as the winter is long, but this one was a chronic liar. If cows could predict the weather, we’d see them on The Weather Channel. I was driving home in a January storm. I had no hat, comforted to know we lose 7 to 10% of body heat through the top of our heads. The head doesn’t disproportionately lose more than any other uncovered area of the body. I should have pulled over and sat out the blizzard, but I was a lad with a driver’s license. I knew if I could just make it home, everything would be OK. I made it home and everything was OK.

Bob Dylan wrote, “May God bless and keep you always. May your wishes all come true. May you always do for others. And let others do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars. And climb on every rung. May you stay forever young.”

That’s my wish for you. And that everything will be OK.


Al Batt is a writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist from rural Hartland, Minnesota. He can be reached at snoeowl@aol.com.

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