I’ve always thought the hype around New Years was kind of funny. People start making New Year’s resolutions, they reflect on the past year, they get ready to celebrate the start of something new. Why do we wait to do this once a year? Why isn’t this a constant process? For example, instead of reflecting on the past year, reflect on yesterday or the past week. What did you enjoy? What do you regret? What improvement have you made on yourself and what do you want to change?
The idea of a clean slate and starting something is exciting. It’s a chance to start over, erase what has been, and move on. For some, it’s not so easy. For others, the previous year becomes literally a thing of the past. I don’t really think that we can forget our past or separate ourselves from it. We can only learn from it.
The countdown, my favorite part of New Years, can be a phenomenal experience because it signifies leaving something behind and entering something new. Midnight, that most magical of times, becomes a celebration filled with hope. That’s what New Year’s is all about isn’t it? Hope for what’s to come? We make plans and resolutions, many of which don’t happen, but it’s still nice to hope that it will. It’s this hope that we celebrate on New Years.
Another tradition I’ve liked as a child was eating twelve grapes before midnight. Each grape represents a month of the new year, and you’re supposed to make a wish whenever you eat a grape. I never remember what I wish for, but at the end of the next year, I like to believe that at least some of those wishes came true.
But, before the new year comes, there’s some important business that has to get done. We have to settle our affairs of this year. December, that month when streets glitter with light, and not only kids believe in magic. We take this time to celebrate family and wonder and miracles. The time after Christmas and before January 1st can be a time of reflection. We look back to last New Years and try to remember what resolutions we made last year. Did they come true? When did we give them up? Are we going to try again? Maybe it’s because Christmas just passed that has us believing in miracles, but I think a lot of us decide to try to fulfill our resolutions again, or complete them before midnight of that fateful day.
So what should we look back on? There are many questions to ask ourselves. There are two links on the bottom if you really want an extensive reflection. But I think the important questions are who were you a year ago? This past year? Who do you want to be next year? What new things did you try this year, and do you regret them or would you do them again? Did those things change you, and in what ways? What old traditions did you hold on to or let go?
Every year should be a year of growth, and sometimes before you grow, you have to get a little dirty. A seed gets buried into the dirt before it comes out and becomes something beautiful. Just because you’ve made mistakes, and maybe stumbled or fell a lot, it doesn’t mean that you won’t rise out of the dirt and grow some petals. Or maybe you’ll become a Venus flytrap. Those things are cool.
And if by some miracle, you made all the right decisions this year and have matured greatly, have you reached all your goals yet? Write down your goals, because you’ll be more likely to accomplish them. Put that list on refrigerator, pin it to your door, leave it somewhere visible in your car. Don’t forget that list.
If you’re stuck, and don’t know what resolutions to make for next year, here are the most popular ones: “lose weight, volunteer to help others, quit smoking, get a better education, get a better job, save money, get fit, eat healthy food, manage stress, manage debt, take a trip, reduce reuse, and recycle, drink less alcohol.”
Whatever you choose to do, I ask that you make a resolution to do something new. Something you’ve always wanted to do and have never done before. Take a risk. Have fun. Help someone. Smile. Dance. Fall in love. Work on a current love. And don’t forget your past.