Ten Reasons to Love January
A positive start to the year
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore how we can tackle the darker moods of winter.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and two readers.
Leader: January - who doesn’t hate this month? Christmas is over. The holidays have finished. It’s wet and cold. The darkness seems to stretch on and on. There’s even a day in January - Blue Monday - to mark how we feel: this year, it falls on 20 January. It’s called Blue Monday because, statistically, it marks the day of the year when the largest number of people will go to see the doctor about depression, marriages will break up, friends will fall out and people will generally feel at their worst.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Do we really want to allow a particular day or month to make us feel miserable, though? Do we have to give in so easily? Surely January should not be allowed to dominate our lives?
Today, instead of focusing on the bad, we are going to consider ten reasons to love January. They won’t all resonate with everyone in this room, but hopefully we can all relate to at least a few of them. With any luck, we will all be able to leave this assembly with a brighter look on our faces!
Here we go.
Reader 1: January is the month when we can enjoy fully the presents that we received at Christmas. There was little time in the middle of the celebrations, but now we can wear, play with and experience these presents at our leisure.
Reader 2: January is the month to catch up on sleep. We’re probably worn out from everything we did in December - all those late nights - so, let’s make the most of the chance for a lie-in.
Reader 1: January is the month to start something new. It may be a leisure activity, a health regime, a book or a group of friends. There’s something about it being the first month of the year that makes a new start feel right.
Reader 2: On the other hand, January can be a good time to stop doing something we were doing last year. It doesn’t necessarily need to be something that was bad for us, like too much chocolate or too little exercise; it might be that we just want a change. We don’t need to be tied down to old routines and habits; we can give ourselves permission to be released.
Reader 1: In the USA, 21 January is National Hugging Day. Hugging is said to make us feel better, whether we are hugging strangers or friends, because it provides the most genuine human contact. In 2010, a man in Oregon hugged a record 1,749 people in an hour. I bet he ended up feeling really good!
Leader: So, how are you feeling so far? Have we managed to bring a few smiles to your faces? Let’s hear a few more reasons to love January.
Reader 2: By January, the days are actually starting to become lighter. The shortest day of winter was Sunday 22 December - that’s weeks ago. It may only be a few minutes lighter each day, but it’s moving in the right direction. Summer is on its way.
Reader 1: January is often when new TV series start. The TV companies know that we need cheering up, so they often air some of their best programmes this month. What are we looking forward to, I wonder?
Reader 2: A bright, crisp January day is brilliant for taking a walk, maybe in the park, in the country or just around the district where we live. It may be cold outside, but we can wrap up warm. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!
Reader 1: January is also the month to get the best bargains. Retailers want to clear their winter stock, so they often slash prices. It’s well worth having a look round.
Reader 2: Finally, Friday 24 January is Global Belly Laugh Day. You don’t even need a joke to make you laugh. A belly laugh can be generated by anyone at any time (you can have a go later). It does us good. A belly laugh increases our blood flow just as any exercise does. It makes us feel more positive, reduces stress and can even boost the immune system, which is important with winter coughs and colds around.
Time for reflection
Leader: So, how does all that make us feel? I hope we’ve at least been able to see a different side to a potentially depressing time of year. As the saying goes, rather than being half-empty, our glass could now be at least half-full.
The next part is up to each of us. We could continue to feel down this month . . . or we could put some of these suggestions into practice. Wouldn’t it be great to hear a few belly laughs around the school? Maybe we should initiate a belly laugh session in the gym one lunchtime. Perhaps we could instigate a hug-in and try to break the current world record. Maybe we could organize a mass walk round the school perimeter. There are lots of ideas that we could do together. Then again, maybe we can simply be cheered by the different perspective that we’ve heard today. If so, it will have made all of this worthwhile!
Thank you for the fact that there’s always a bright side to life, if we look carefully and imaginatively enough.
Remind us of this when we’re tempted to slip down into the depths of January.
‘Don’t worry, be happy’ by Bobby McFerrin, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU (4.03 minutes long)