Reasons why I love every January: one, every single day is longer than the day before. Two, it is my birthday month. Three, the word “January” is so lovely, lilting and full of hope after all those harsh, ever darker, ever colder, “ERR” months. September, October, November, Decemberrrrr.

Reasons why I Iove this January: one, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire is NOT running for re-election, which means she can throw her heart, soul and political smarts into issues like same-sex marriage.  And two, Newt Gingrich could really, truly be out of the news headlines by the end of the month.

It’s just so… unpleasant, having Newt around.  For those of us over thirty, it’s like having some annoying something you thought you were so over—athlete’s foot, a bad credit report, acne—suddenly back with a vengeance.  The bloviating, the bombast, the name itself—“NEWT”—really? You ask yourself? Again?

Janus, for whom my favorite non-summer month is named, is the Roman god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings.  His face is nearly always depicted as a double profile, looking both forward and back.  Encyclopedia Mythica says Janus also represents transitions between, quote, “primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, and the growing-up of young people.”

Governor Gregoire stands at the gate between two phases of her life—governor, and ex-governor—and she uses this threshold, this Janus moment, to say, This is the time to make this historic change.   Gregoire, who is Catholic, told the Seattle Times: “I have been on my own journey. I will admit that. It has been a battle for me with my religion.  I have always been uncomfortable with the position that I have taken publicly. And then I came to realize the religions can decide what they want to do but it is not OK for the state to discriminate.”

This is the kind of news—of gates and doors, beginnings and endings—that gives Janus, and January, a good name.

Newt Gingrich slipping to the back of the Republican pack, in large part thanks to the kind of big-money, negative campaigning he himself has long championed, doesn’t give off quite the same bouquet of hope. But try pairing it with Barack Obama starting the year out by daring to actually appoint Richard Cordray, his long-stalled nominee to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, giving the bureau the green light to start getting some work done.  This is an agency Americans of many political persuasions agree is something we need.  It’s hard to oppose the concept of protecting consumers.  I think Janus might call it a step from primitive living toward civilization.  Or even a step toward the growing-up of our chronically adolescent government.

Meanwhile, both my children will be in town for my birthday. My husband and I have plenty of work. My volunteer tutoring is morphing into a bigger commitment, a writer-in-residence gig which I’m excited and nervous about.

And through it all, the sun will rise earlier and set later every day.  It’s going to be a good month.