When I was a child, we didn’t have much of a New Year’s tradition. My parents let me stay up late and there was usually a tray of veggies, crackers, and cheeses. Being from New York, my parents watched the Ball drop on tv and then called it a night. On New Year’s Day we always had ham for dinner.
Walter was the one who introduced me to more in-depth New Year’s traditions. I still follow his recipe for black-eyed peas (although not the corn bread — for shame!), which he informed me was a great tradition since the starch in the beans helped with hangovers.
But a more metaphysical tradition he shared with me borrowed more from astrology than anything else. Walter viewed the New Year like a progressed chart.
He held that the first hours and days of the New Year indicated what kind of year you were likely to have. This is why you traditionally ring in the New Year with a kiss.
I did not get a kiss at midnight on New Year’s. (I did get a loaf of banana bread, which was a delicious consolation prize.) The person I would have liked to share that kiss with was otherwise engaged, and I spent the evening with my friend Sapphire and her young son. We watched Despicable Me, ate finger foods, talked about failed relationships, talked about potential future relationships, talked honestly about why we never got together, and did tarot readings.
It was a good night. It was a night of reflection, friendship, support, forward thinking, and optimism.
Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad way to start of a New Year.
I don’t know if you can actually judge how the year will go based on those first few minutes. And perspective can be everything: had I dwelled on missing the chance for that kiss, I could have easily concluded my year would be lonely and full of failure. But instead I was with a good friend having honest and supportive conversation (And lil smokies and Chex Mix). Even the unfulfilled hope turned into future opportunity.
What I really think it comes down to is the mindset of the New Beginning. We tend to look at New Year’s as the end of the Old and the chance to start fresh and new. And this can be a good thing if you take advantage of it.
I never really did in the past. But this time around I decided to give it a shot.
And it is the mindset you carry in to a new year than makes the difference. It is the mindset that turns a quiet evening on a night of wild parties into a fantastic start to a year in which I want to get my life in better order and accomplish some of my bigger goals.
And I’ve already had some rough times in the past couple of days. And there are people who I want to see but haven’t. But I’ve made the decision to stay focused on what I want and need to do, and surround myself with people who put off the energy I want in my life. And I think I’m doing fairly well so far.
And we’re still in the beginning time. If the past couple of days have been difficult or disappointing, you can still establish the energy you want to lay down for the foundation of the rest of the year.
And to be clear, I’m not talking about positive thinking or just putting a smile on your tough times. I’m talking about making the best of what you have and looking at even the bad things as opportunities to move forward. I hate horrible cliches like “learn from your hardships,” but there can be truth to that as well. Enduring hardship takes strength. Pain motivates. It isn’t just positive thinking, but positive action that sets the stage for a new beginning. And taking control of your surroundings helps that a lot. Who you surround yourself with, what activities and goals you pursue, all add to or take away from your ability to cope with the obstacles you encounter.
So I’m off to a good start. This year will be one where I set and achieve goals. This year will be one where I let go of past failures and regrets. This year will be one where I find deeper solace in friends, and provide refuge and support for those I care about. And it’s that way because I have decided to make it so.
How’s your year going to go?