I bake a heart-shaped cake

JANUARY passes too quickly. I hate saying goodbye to the last Christmas cookie, snowmen, and rosy cheeks. Winter-white wonderland, glow, warmth, and romance of the fire in the fireplace. Beginning of a new year, full of hope and promise, hot chocolate, and pots of homemade soups and stews simmering on the stove. More than anything, I like the luxury of time for curling up in my favorite chair with good reading or my knitting. Frantic activity of the holidays behind and the extra demands of yard and garden ahead, this is a glorious time.

``You like February?'' friends ask. Most used a four-letter word describing their feelings about this winter month: BLAH! Yes, I like February and Ground-hog Day.

I like Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays, not because they give us a holiday. They were true heroes; men of vision, courage, and honesty. These days especially we should dwell on these qualities and do all we can to cultivate them in ourselves and our children. I like cherry pie in February.

I like Valentine's Day. On Feb. 14 I can tell those I love, ``I love you'' without them thinking me mushy or maudlin. Grown boy children tend to shrink from hugs or being told ``I love you'' by their mothers. Along with cherry pie, I bake a huge heart-shaped cake and serve it with extra affection.

I like all Februarys and Leap Years more. It's hard imagining why everyone doesn't appreciate this bonus, especially those agreeing there aren't enough hours nor days in a week for doing all we want to do. However, like a nest egg in the bank, our extra day might be more useful if we could draw on the 24 hours a little at a time.

Being more house-bound and having more free time in winter, I can indulge myself and not feel guilty. It's relaxing and renewing, being able to get comfortable with a book, hot chocolate or coffee, and not have to worry about what I should be doing elsewhere as I would during spring, summer, and fall.

Yes, I like winter. There is more time, more getting in touch with myself than any other time of year.

And after all, it does lead to March and the first day of spring.

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