January is the month of the winter blahs. Just ask anyone. After Christmas and Hanukkah, nobody cares for winter anymore. Some people may like it since they hate the heat so much, or they like to ski, or they just like to be contrary while everyone else is complaining. Most of us miss the sun by now, and for some people, these darker months can cause an actual depressive disorder called "Seasonal Affective Disorder." I first heard of this disorder on one of my all-time favorite TV shows, "Northern Exposure." The series takes place in Alaska, and their winters are darker than anyone's. They lead up to a winter day where there is twenty-four hours of darkness! One of the characters, Holling, always finds himself hibernating in winter, so he wears a contraption with small light bulbs attached to it that shines on his face and keeps the darkness from getting to him.
My mom has always had another solution to keep from getting depressed during the winter months. Every January, she decorates the house with dozens of snowmen and even throws all of her friends a "Snowman Party." The one rule for the party is that everything has to be white. We all wear white and eat only white foods. We have white cheddar cheese doodles and Swiss cheese on white crackers for snacks, and later, we order ricotta and mozzarella pizza, no sauce. The main event of the party is a "Count the Snowmen Game." Before the party takes place, my mom goes around her house several times to do a meticulous counting of the snowmen. She counts all the snowmen dolls and nicknacks but also has to count the snowmen on the tablecloth and any pictures she hangs up for the party. After our white pizza, we go around the house with our snowmen pencils and papers and count all the snowmen in silence. Whoever comes closest to the correct number of snowmen wins a prize which may or may not be a snowman.
I remember one particular winter morning during the first few days of January when my mom and I had breakfast at the local diner. For some reason, I had an enormous craving for chocolate chip pancakes. This was unusual because I never crave anything but eggs for breakfast, ever! I'm a total egg person. "That's because we haven't had any sunlight for three days," my mom told me. "Sunshine and chocolate BOTH increase the release of serotonin in our bodies, and serotonin is a natural anti-depressant. But don't worry," she continued, "January is the month of the snowman. Even if we don't get any sunshine, we'll both decorate our houses with snowmen, and we'll throw a Snowman Party. Seeing those smiling faces on the snowmen will cheer us up!" It's a lot of work to throw a Snowman Party, but think about it: It's a lot more fun than wearing a device on your head filled with lights!