'Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.' --Oscar Wilde

Welcome, 2015. Sorry we haven't really been introduced before now. I've been slow to really grab hold of you in the thirteen days since we met, but I think I'm getting with the program, finally. A little bit of the usual seasonal unease has me dragging my heels into the new year, looking backwards toward the tail end of the holiday season. I didn't really embrace the holidays this time around until it seemed they were nearly over, and for a while--long after the tree should have come down and the mistletoe been packed away--my heart was still aching for warm candlelight and bright paper packages tied up with bows, for cinnamon-spiced things and holly berries and cheer. 

It's really kind of cruel, anyway, isn't it? The way the television commercials instantly switch from scenes of families sipping hot cocoa together to ads for gym memberships? The way we're all expected to snap ourselves briskly into shape like triathletes instead of the eggnog junkies we've become? The way the season just ends and we're left with....January? I may not be huddled in a tiny New York apartment shivering my way through the coldest month of the year this time around (thank goodness for that), but even in the comparatively balmy winters of the Southwestern desert, January is just.....January. A bit grey. A bit gloomy. And after the fleeting glitziness of New Year's Eve passes, totally bereft of golden, twinkling lights, warming cocktails and happy songs. Well, this year I'm fighting my raging case of the Januaries with a warming cocktail of my own, and one that's perfect at any hour of the day: Ginger, lemon & honey tea.

2015, you are nothing to fear. In fact, I've been waiting for you--we have some truly epic things planned around my household, all scheduled to start taking place this year--I just wasn't...you know...ready for you. But I'm getting there. Like every other human on the planet, I find I am constantly failing, a saintly sinner with an uncertain future. 2014 was epic in its own way, and we moved a lot of mountains, the members of my small household and me. But there are always more mountains left to move. Looking back on a completed year, I see a lot of incomplete actions, a lot of disappointments, a lot of small-minded moments.

Cold, blustery January is maybe the starkest possible reminder of the failures of the year before, which I think accounts for all the resolutions and cleanses and new gym memberships, all the broken promises of the year before seeping their way into our vision for the new year. And yet, and yet.....there is hope. Even in the midst of all this midwinter gloom, there is a way forward (even if we don't find it a physical possibility to exist only on virtuous kale* smoothies for the first month of the year), there is light, there is hope. There is beauty in our most ordinary days, there is grace in humility, there is strength to be gained even in our failures. There is happiness--and healthiness!--to be found in a quietly sipped cup of ginger, lemon & honey tea. Every one of us saints has a past in 2014, and every single one of us sinners has a future. 

To your very good health. :)

(  *Look for a recipe coming tomorrow featuring kale! And no, I'm not kidding, and yes, I'm aware that my timing is ironically hilarious. Don't worry. It's delicious.)

Ginger, Lemon & Honey Tea

This warming beverage is absolutely EVERYTHING in winter. The champion of 'cleanses' for those who may have overdone it on the holiday spirit, and the immune system-boosting hero of cold & flu season, one way or another....drink this to fight whatever form your own case of the Januaries may be taking.

Bright, fresh lemon juice boosts your vitamin C intake, while naturally warming ginger and cinnamon (optional, but I always like to add a dash of ground cinnamon to spike my tea) help the body release toxins. Ginger also fights nausea and aids digestion, and honey, with its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties......well, honey is basically a supernaturally perfect food. Plus, this concoction tastes delicious. Need I say more?

Makes one serving

1 cup water
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peel removed & thinly sliced into coins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey, or more

Optional garnishes:

cinnamon stick, or ground cinnamon
fresh lemon slice

Bring water just to a boil on the stovetop or in a microwave, pour into a cup and add ginger. Let steep and cool for around five minutes, then add lemon juice and honey, stir to dissolve. If you're a cinnamon fan, swizzling your drink at this point with a whole cinamon stick is a wonderful trick, and allows you to use the delightful verb 'to swizzle'. ;)

You can strain your tea at this point to remove solids, or you can be a little more devil-may-care about them like me, and just leave them in bottom of the cup. I like to garnish my tea with a thin slice of lemon partly because it looks pretty, and partly because it keeps the slices of ginger where they belong, i.e. underneath the slice of lemon and not in my mouth. Do what works for you, and enjoy!