It is in the sullen, sunless days of January and February when I feel the darkness creep into my spirit, weighing me down with its unending gray. It saps away my energy and joy; it eats away at my heart with a kind of malicious pleasure.
When Marc and I were married less than a year, we went through a particularly tough winter. I was working full time, Monday through Friday, and Marc was in his first year of pharmacy school, in addition to working three out of every four weekends. To make ends meet, we kept the thermostat at 64 degrees during the day, 56 at night. It was one of many adjustments in those early months of marriage that were wearing us down and it was easy to find reasons to snipe at each other.
Then, February brought a major snowstorm and both Marc’s school and my work shut their doors for the day. This was before the days of home ownership and the need to get outside and shovel. It was before kids, before any responsibilities other than work and school.
It was a midwinter gift, and we grabbed it with adolescent glee. We filled the hours with the silly and the sexy, rediscovering our happy, our reasons for being together. We dubbed it “Oasis Day,” and honored it every year, first with a single day and later with a weekend—always in February. It was just as dismal outside, just as cold, but it didn’t matter. We had created a warm cocoon in the middle of our most hated month.
We had some wonderful Oasis weekends over the years. A trip to New Orleans right after Mardi Gras; an unforgettable time in Glendale, Arizona. We went to Las Vegas one year with a side trip to the Grand Canyon, and soaked up the bright, beautiful blue of the sky against the canyon’s chorus of reds and oranges.
Of course, lives change, and responsibilities grow. We bid farewell to our Oasis Weekend about ten years ago as we faced aging, ill parents and some serious teenager angst. It didn’t matter that we said it was only for one year; that sacred Margie-Marc time was violated, and it somehow became easier to just let it go. Better to save the money for something on “the list.”
I think we forgot somewhere along the way how simple that first Oasis Day was. It wasn’t about going somewhere warm and sunny, it was just about giving one another the gift of our time. Letting go of petty grievances and concentrating on the reasons we got married in the first place. It was our February sunlight, something we gave to one another to renew and refresh. To find hope and happy in the middle of the dark days of winter.
Today I asked Marc if he wanted to set a day aside this month, just one day, for Oasis Day. Not for the big and pricey, but for the little and priceless. He smiled his warm slow smile, the one that let his dimples wink.
“Oh, I think we should,” he said.
I know so many people whose spirits suffer from the dark of the winter months, who seem just stuck in that gray. Instead of slogging through, I think we all need to find simple ways to create that oasis in the midst of the dark. Take just one day for yourself, or for you and your partner. Find a way to bring the sunshine back into your heart; let it fill you with its warmth until the forsythia opens its yellow buds once again.