Thursday, January 21, 2010

January Genesis

There hasn't always been a January issue of Martha Stewart Living, as many of you know. Prior to 2001, this coldest of cold months was sandwiched, unceremoniously, with the December issue, incorporating various winter themes into one, big, shiny holiday issue. I am very thankful, these days, to have a January issue, separate from the holiday issue since it allows for the exploration and celebration of winter activities, themes and projects that are not connected to holiday fare.

For those of us who collect every issue of the magazine, various January themes have become evident over the years: breads, beds and closets among them. The January issue of Martha Stewart Living began in 2001 with an anniversary issue, celebrating 10 years of Martha Stewart Living content. The following year, the January content became more evident and focused. The first few years of its appearance on newsstands, the issue paid homage to celebrations with articles on anniversary traditions, birthday cakes and card-making.

There have been ten January issues of Martha Stewart Living, two of them anniversary issues. Next year's issue will be the 20th anniversary issue!

I also began noticing a trend towards the subtropical with articles on entertaining or gardening in California or Florida, visits to pineapple farms, desserts made of tropical fruits or articles on caring for tropical plants. This was likely an editorial decision to not only incorporate a sense of American regionalism but also to provide a sense of escape for the bulk of Martha Stewart's readers, who are mostly based in the frigid northeast and midwest. (The cooking articles also played up the availability of seasonal produce, much of it from the southern states, something I've always deeply admired about the magazine's food editorials.)

Gradually, the January issue became more about 'the comforts of home' with a focus on clutter-clearing and cleansing, healthy eating and organizing: a clean-slate approach to living. Closet or storage organization is a staple feature of the January issue now (pantries, etc.) as are articles on bedrooms, whether it's making or collecting quilts or redecorating and updating your nest for a cozier night's sleep.

I've always loved the January issue of Martha Stewart Living. It's slim and clean and so refreshing after the baroque December issue with its rich recipes and glamorous crafts.

There are two January issues that are 'must-haves' for collectors: the 10th anniversary issue (2001) and the 15th anniversary issue (2006.) Anniversary issues of any magazine tend to be more collectible. The 10th anniversary issue has a wonderful retrospective of the previous ten years of the publication with Martha Stewart Living trivia and history. The 15th anniversary is less of a retrospective, but does have a compilation of 15 years of Good Things, the best seasonal cakes and a great article on scrapbooking. Both are available as back issues through Martha Stewart Living or on eBay.

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