I'm writing this a little late, but life gets complicated sometimes, and I have to just go with the flow. We've just entered 2019 and started a new year, whatever that really means. Our young children can't possibly understand the passing of time fully. They just know that everyone says things like, "See you next year," or "Happy New Year!" It's like birthdays. Who ever feels older on their birthday, except conceptually? Time keeping has always baffled me. A friend was once given a watch with "NOW" written instead of each number. Now that's my kind of watch. However, I do the idea of starting anew with plans and schemes for how I would like my life to go in the coming year.
I've always been a fan of tradition. On Thanksgiving, much to my family's chagrin, I always ask what everyone is thankful for and insist that everyone answer. This Winter Solstice, I asked everyone to share a story. Not everyone did, and I didn't insist since it was a new thing, but they'd better be prepared next year. As much as they all complain, they also enjoy it. On New Year's Eve, we celebrate at midnight, but not every child will stay up that late. Why not have your celebration early. Celebrate the new year of a different time zone. Who will really know the difference? You could even find out what the traditions are for that time zone. I like to think about the things I'm leaving behind from the ending year on New Year's Eve. I think about the difficult things and try to let them go. I believe it's a good way to acknowlege hard times with your children without dwelling on them and giving them permission to move on to happier things.
On New Year's Day, I like to plan to do all of the things I want to do in the coming year. This year, I did a little cleaning (because I really don't want to spend my whole year doing that but do want a clean space), practiced my music, wrote a new song, cooked a nice meal, spent time with my partner and went for a walk, visiting our lovely neighbors along the way. I also reached out to my family members in some way or other. It's not too late to do that with your children. Why does it have to be on January 1st? It can happen anytime in the beginning of January. Just encourage them to think about how they would their year to go and ask them to intentionally do those things at this beginning of the year.
Because I love tradition so much, I researched New Year traditions from around the world. Noise making was done in many cultures to drive away evil spirits. Many cultures have special foods that they eat on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I made Scotch Shortbread this year to honor the people who were more like grandparents to me as a child than my own because they lived so closeby. Drinking is a common theme, and most of the drinks are spiced and warm. In Rome, Persia, early Egypt and in Scotland, gifts are given on New Year's Day.
Some adages and sayings associated with the New Year are:
* On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.
* If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south, It betokeneth warmth and growth.
* For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.
* If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.
* Begin the new year square with every man. [i.e., pay your debts!] –Robert B. Thomas, founder of The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Notice that a lot of these saying are about starting the year off on the right foot. The Scottish have a tradition called "First Footing." Have you thought about any behavior changes you would like your children to make? This is perfect time to talk about those things while letting them know about the changes you plan to make as well. And, do they have any request of you? We can all build our own traditions from scratch or based on older traditions. They don't have to be from our own culture, but I think acknowledging our heritage and keeping those traditions alive is always a good thing. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to include your family in the planning. Then everyone feels as though they can own it. My traditions nearly always involve music of some kind because that's more important to me than specific food or drink.
Some cultures leave a basket of things outside on New Year's Eve and bring it in on New Year's Day. The basket is filled with things you want to have during the year. What would you put in your basket? I hope 2019 brings lots of happiness, health and laughter to all of you and your families.