When God was making the months, I think February was a mistake, like a burp. There it was, small, dark and prickly. It had absolutely no redeeming qualities. (Shannon Wiersbitzky)
I know, “hate” is a rather strong word to use in just about any context, and I apologize for that, but I agree with author Shannon Wiersbitzky – February has no redeeming qualities. It is, without a doubt, my least favorite month, and I’ll tell you why.
Weather. This is the most obvious reason to “strongly dislike” February. It’s already been a long winter and in all likelihood there’s more to come. A little snow at Christmas is nice; and in January it’s almost a given. But by February we’re tired of it. It’s true we’re gaining a little daylight each day, and on occasion it warms up enough to give us a hint of spring. But some of the worst of winter storms, even blizzards, occur in February.
And by now, everything is gray and dirty – roads, parking lots, cars, boots and shoes. Even our moods turn sour as cabin fever takes its toll. Is it any wonder we await so eagerly the first daffodils of spring with a touch of life and color they bring to the landscape?
Sports. For most sports fans, February is the quietest, emptiest month of the year. Football is over and it’ll be at least six months until it gets serious again. Baseball’s spring training will begin this month, but the early days with calisthenics, intra-squad games and unknown players are irrelevant. And there’s the jealousy problem – we’re stuck here in the snow and we watch the reports from Florida and Arizona with the boys and their fans basking in the warm sun with the palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze. Professional hockey and basketball are droning on, but it will be awhile until the playoffs, the “second seasons,” begin – and then not end until June! And you can’t play much golf in February can you?
Of course some people enjoy winter sports – ice skating, skiing and snowboarding come to mind, but those dangerous activities appeal to a few brave, masochistic souls who look forward to breaking their arms and twisting their ankles, not to us more sedentary types. I guess I could take up curling.
Lent. The Season of Lent is indeed a very important and spiritually rewarding season for Christians. But, in the context of a long, dark winter, Lent just adds to our feeling of doom and gloom. It begins with a dirty smudge of ashes and a reminder of our mortality. And the liturgical elements don’t exactly lift our spirits either. The emphasis on sin and repentance, the purple vestments, the lugubrious hymns and the disappearance of the Gloria and Alleluia point to the serious, somber nature of the season.
And then there’s that sacrificial, mortification (death-making) thing. The need to “give something up” is a challenge and forty days can seem like an awfully long time to go without desserts, alcohol, cigarettes, mindless TV or swearing – if you’re attached to any of those bad habits. Too bad Jesus didn’t stay in the desert for just a couple of weeks!
Taxes. I know, tax returns aren’t due for a while and lots of people wait until March or even April to get serious about taxes, but for many of us, it’s in February that we start thinking about it and begin gathering all the financial statements and other documentation our tax-preparers tell us we need.
I don’t mind paying taxes, I really don’t, but it’s the complicated process I resent. I used to prepare my own taxes, but didn’t know exactly what I was doing and I was warned that if I made some mistakes and was audited it could become a public scandal for the Church. Indeed I was audited once, about 40 years ago. I remember the main point of contention was that I claimed the purchase of a $100 black suit, (a uniform in my mind) as a business expense. “No, no,” the rookie auditor trying to make a name for himself said, “not unless it has a Roman collar attached.” That event scarred me, and I think about it every February when tax season begins anew.
Valentine’s Day. The holiday of romance can be a lovely, heart-warming day for couples in love, intimate friends, engaged couples, and young marrieds. (Is there a certain point when it’s acceptable for husbands to ignore Valentine’s Day, or is it a perpetual obligation?) But, for those of us committed to celibacy, Valentine’s Day is a spectator sport.
As I’ve written on the past on this topic: “Celibacy is always counter-cultural, but never more so than on Valentine’s Day, our national festival of human love and affection. Valentine’s Day is for a celibate what an ice storm is for a road crew, a time of particular challenge and peril.”
On Valentine’s Day I feel left out. I’m always glad when it’s over. And it’s another reason to dislike February.
The quote at the beginning said that February has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Let me amend that by saying there are two good things about February. First, my mom’s birthday occurred in February, on the 27th and she would have been 100 years old this year, God rest her. Thanks, Mom, for everything and happy birthday!
And secondly, the month is short, just 28 days usually. But believe me, it’s a page on the calendar I’m always very happy to turn!