Every year, I rediscover the week between Christmas and the New Year with mild surprise. All is quiet, or at least quieter than it has been in months. It’s as if the world, after careening through the parties and get-it-done workdays, through student final exams and family holiday preparations, has settled into a lull of stillness.
Somehow, in these darkest, coldest days of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve pressed pause to catch our breath, to slow down and regain our balance before we shoot off again after the new year. It’s the collective stillness I love.
My 5 Favorite Things about the New Year
1. Time with friends and family.
There are those in our lives who are with us through the daily mundane and the new and old challenges. Somehow being with them, together, helps us to become more of ourselves. They help to brush off the dust of everyday life and to find what lies beneath, our essence. And they love us despite it all. These human beings are my treasures.
A favorite passage from Margery Williams’s 1922 book The Velveteen Rabbit:
“[Becoming Real] doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
2014 has been a great year filled with rich times with family and friends. The best.
2. Looking back.
2014 was full of all sorts of fun things: traveling to New Orleans, New York City, Boston, Maine, Florida, and California; settling in and hanging around Ohio for our first full year back in the U.S.; watching countless basketball games (all 3 of my boys play school basketball, high school & 2 in middle school); and my favorite time of all, downtime with my 4 guys. Below, an unexpected fun new skill: curling with a neighborhood of friends.
3. Listening and watching, and listening more.
In the quiet and dark days of winter, I think it’s somehow easier to hear where our hearts are tugging us forward, and to remember the experiences and relationships which fill us up and encourage us to be more of who we are. Reflection is essential for a wholehearted life.
Last year, I set a reading goal, in addition to the other facets of life I want to make a priority. I love that in 2015, all of us on the Great New Books.org team are setting goals at our 2015 GNB Reading Challenge. I hope you’ll join us!
5. Looking ahead.
Last year at this time, I pasted a saying onto my virtual forehead: Be You, Believe in Yourself. It stuck with me all year, and has helped me in innumerable ways. I think I’m staying with it for this coming year as well.
“There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind” – C.S. Lewis
I hope that as this 2014 turns to 2015, you have time to sort and reflect and build into a year that will be the best yet.
Happy New Year! xo Jennifer