Cold weather, taxes, and a visit from an unwelcome guest


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January is not a nice month. He is a selfish old man who is cold, frigid and all about himself. He wants the lovely Christmas memories boxed up along with any trace of my jovial mood. He also wants any hope for summer days eradicated and worse yet, he brings along one of his nasty old friends, Mr. Tax Season.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I can’t wait for January!” I think not.

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He is now a day or two behind us and I bid him a fond adieu. For you see, January, in all of his disgusting existence, is not content with just himself and his tax guy.  No sir, he has to bring along another filthy accomplice, Fred Flu.

If one knew that Fred’s visit was looming upon her horizon, she could put some plans into play. She could stock the cupboards, take care of pending appointments and batten down the hatches.

But Fred just isn’t that polite. He is like a disgusting guest you had in the past and never liked in the first place; that guy you were rude to, gave the what for, and was so self-centered that he still didn’t get the hint.

What Fred does do, a day or so in advance, is send out his own special calling card.

Although I didn’t know what it was at first, I received Fred’s calling card last week when I was shoveling snow. Huh, I thought to myself. I just don’t seem to have the stamina for moving this stuff around today.

I didn’t get it when I weakly lifted a heavy box, was oblivious when I seemed to have lost my wit and had nary a clue when I slumped in to a chair with complete exhaustion by 11 a.m.

I have a tendency for being dramatic. You may not believe it to be true, but it is.  So as I did a mental inventory I thought to myself, Am I getting old? Is this the new-old me? Can I no longer do the day’s tasks without feeling exhausted?

It wasn’t long after I noticed that my fingers hurt, my neck ached and to the tune of “Oh no!” that every move was excruciating; not to mention the general malaise.

It wasn’t until the chills came upon me that I realized that not only was Fred here, he had settled in for an extended stay. Talk about a dirty so and so.

With a stomach that was rolling like a ship on a stormy sea, I did the only thing I thought could possibly make me feel better and I placed a phone call to my dear and precious mother; that sweet little woman who used to make me Jello water and place a cool washcloth on my head at times such as these.

While some would expect a mother to be sympathetic and to race to a daughter’s sickbed with a thermometer and a bowl of chicken noodle soup, my mother explained the detrimental impact of a flu for “a woman of her age.” Then she quickly tapped on the receiver, claimed we had a bad connection and promptly hung up.

My beloved spouse, Pat, patted me on the head and wished me well before leaving for work. Our sons sent me sympathetic text messages and our dog Sadie was kind enough to drop her toys in my lap in hopes for a game of fetch. Still, it turned out I was largely on my own.

It has been a couple of days and it appears to those not in the know that Fred has taken his leave. Yet I know he is a clever and formidable adversary and I just don’t trust him.

I fear he will do his best to find his way back into our home. In fact, I can almost hear my poor and unsuspecting husband as he brings Fred home for dinner with an unknowing, “Hey honey! Look who I ran into at the lumber yard!”

January is gone and I could not be happier. I just wish there was a way to contact that nasty month and say, “Hey there Bud! I think you forgot somebody!”

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to

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