Growing up the two days I hated the most were the first day back to school following summer vacation and the first day back after the two-week Christmas break (with any day I had to go see the goddamn dentist as a painful second). Man oh man, getting out of bed on those two days were Herculean tasks and I’m pretty sure my mother needed a team of Clydesdales on a few occasion to drag my cranky posterior out of bed. It’s a feeling I’m pretty sure thousands of students across the Nation’s Capital are reminded of today as they return to class following this year’s Holiday break (as well as any parents who are employed by the Federal government, many of whom are returning today as well). If nothing else, it was a joyless reminder that winter, endless, bleak winter, was here.

But like most things in life, survival is a matter of perspective. Keeping the following things in mind won’t really beat Old Man Winter, but they’ll help you keep your sanity intact until Lady Spring comes along to kick the frosty old bugger’s ass.

January sucks, no bones about it. Everyone is suffering from Holiday Hangover (especially those of us who wait for the Christmas season with bated breath all year), stores and homes and schools are removing the bright and festive decorations, lights that once illuminated the unforgiving winter nights are gone, replaced by harsh winter shadows, and a glum depression settles over everyone as the two-month anticipation for the Yuletide season gives way to dread for the inevitable arrival of Christmas shopping bills. The weather is rotten, a psychotic recipe of cold, snow, freezing rain, wind chill warnings and more cold (something everyone who lives in Ontario got a heaping helping of this past weekend); you wind up having to add an extra twenty minutes to your daily schedule so you can gear up before leaving your house to prevent dying from hypothermia in thirty-seven seconds flat. Even as I put the finishing touches on this, the wind is screaming outside a window I can’t even se out of because it’s covered in a veil of ice (I’m looking forward to going outside about as much a root canal). January. Just. Sucks.

But if you can endure the thirty-one days of pure asstastic that is January and make it to February, well like our favourite Joes used to say about knowing, you’ve already won half the battle. February can be brutal cold as well and usually has no shortage of homicidal weather to throw our way, but if you look just right, you’ll notice the days slowly growing in length as the sun hangs out a few extra seconds. Sports fans get to kick the month off with Superbowl Sunday (a virtual holiday in the U.S.) and cap it off with the NHL trade deadline (which admittedly, is just a lot of speculative hysteria in a salary cap world) and sandwiched in the middle is the NHL and NBA All Star games. Ottawa and Gatineau break out Winterlude and lovers get Valentine’s Day (and hey, even if your single you can take advantage of all that chocolate on sale for half price on the 15th). And if you happen to live in Ontario, we get an extra day off to hibernate with Family Day. All in all February is a much more survivable month then it’s foul mouthed, dark hearted, frigid pain in the frozen ass predecessor. Even the movies are better.

And as for March? Even if the weather is still cold and awful come March 1st, you know it’s only a matter of time until Winter hits the annual bricks. Unlike February, there’s no doubt the days are growing longer brighter and the air is a little less bone chilling despite March’s traditional bluster. Even if Old Man Winter still has a few nasty surprises up his sleeve, it’s obvious he’s breathing through his mouth and that Spring has him on the ropes. Because on March 1st, Winter’s days are quite literally numbered and it’s only a matter of time until Winter’s icy grip melts into memory. Keeping these things in mind won’t protect you from frostbite, but they just might keep you from skating down Bank St. cackling hysterically one February afternoon.

Shayne Kempton

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