A “Jinxed” Month / Fernando Dámaso

In the first half of the 20th Century and up to the decade of the seventies, December was a month of joy and January a month of hope. It was the beginning of the new year, in which we made resolutions to improve over the past, and in this effort, very humane and just, we always aspired to do better. The year that was leaving was represented by an old man with a scythe, and the one coming by a baby in diapers. It was the transition from the old to the new.

This allegory, for unknown reasons, hasn’t been used in my country for many years, and January has become a month of uncertainties, a month with a “jinx.” I don’t know if it’s planned or coincidence, but the bad news is always announced in January. This has dampened Christmas eve and Christmas, and their celebration is limited to the immediate circle in those families who persist in maintaining the tradition. Epiphany brings even worse luck. We can’t be happy in December when January is looming with storms in the forecast.

This year, to not break the chain, they have announced massive layoffs that will reach, in the first stage, one million two hundred thousand unemployed. These are not the official words used, but they’re the real ones. If this is what awaits us in the first month of the year, the rest doesn’t seem very hopeful. There are other measures, also announced, that will further complicate the survival of each citizen.

It’s a good thing that they’ve set aside the habit of naming the years and now they are only numbered by the number of years that have passed since the insurrectionists’ triumph. Otherwise, they would have had to call 2011 “The Year of the Unemployed,” or, perhaps, repeating past experience, “The Year of the Sixth Congress.”

Despite everything announced for January and the subsequent months, on the personal and family level we are healthy and have positive life projects for the new year on which we will focus our major efforts. This is the only way we can escape pessimism, and bring needed happiness into our lives, to survive this dark and closed reality.

January 5 2011