I gave up making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. I always aimed too high and set myself up for failure. What’s more, I’m making resolutions all year ‘round, so there doesn’t seem to be much point in forcing myself to come up with new ones just because I’m hanging up a new calendar. (Oops, there’s a resolution: upload the new photo calendar to the Costco website before February!)
So, how did I spend New Year’s Eve? We were newly home from having spent Christmas in Phoenix with family, the girls were in bed, and I was enjoying a quiet, cozy evening with a book and a glass of wine. What once would have been considered a New Year’s Eve FAIL —sitting home alone— now felt like bliss.
And I remembered that, several years before I had my kids, I had improvised my own New Year’s Eve ritual. I had been going through a rough time, and I had gone up to my parents’ mountain cabin to spend a quiet, reflective, and restorative holiday alone. I wrote down everything I wanted to leave behind me in the old year, bundled up, and sat out on the deck with an ashtray and a box of matches. Under the dome of the stars, with the moon as my witness, I burned every one. Then I sat for a while, watching for stray meteors left over from the December Geminid shower, and sending up prayers for the people and animals who were no longer with me.
The ritual worked, insofar as I walked away from it feeling stronger, feeling less overwhelmed, feeling braver. You could say “placebo effect” and maybe you’d be right, but then again, who cares if it’s the placebo effect if it works?
And so this year, I reprised that ritual. I burned little scraps of paper that held the names of six things I’d like to leave behind. Things like procrastination and disorganization. Things like fatigue and envy. Anger. I can’t remember the last one now, but I can feel whatever it is being worked loose and slipping away nonetheless.
May you all have a safe, beautiful, and blessed year.
by Holly Vanderhaar
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