New Year's has never been my favorite holiday--it's a holiday designed to remind us how we haven't met our goals as we make new goals and new resolutions, which will be what we use to criticize ourselves next year.
I did not eat any special foods yesterday. It wasn't until I was a grown up that I even knew about these traditions. The first time I met the woman who would become my stepmom-in-law, she apologized for the meal she served, the black eyed peas, the greens, the cornbread. She said, "It's not what I'd normally serve company, but I don't want to risk bad luck in the new year."
Of course it was delicious, as every meal she's ever made has been.
Since then I've learned about the custom of eating 12 grapes on the first day of the new year--1 grape for every month of the year, 1 grape to bring sweetness to the month. I didn't do that yesterday either.
I fell asleep early on New Year's Eve, which means I woke up early--but then I made the mistake of trying to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned and then fell asleep and had strange dreams. I woke up feeling off kilter. It's not a great way to start the new year.
My sleep has been even more wrecked than usual. I stayed up late to pick up a friend at the train and then a few days later for Christmas Eve service. I would like to get back to a schedule that's more workable.
Even though I was off kilter and a bit irritable, I did get some chores done: bills paid, bank deposit made, library books returned. I did find a smidge of time to read. We had a good meal with friends. I did have time to write. If the activities that we do on the first day of the year are invitations for those activities to become part of our lives throughout the year, then I'm fine with that.
And so, the holidays come to their gentle ending (although I won't be taking down the few decorations at our house until after Epiphany on Jan. 6). I will miss the wonderful lights. This year seems to be one when my neighbors have had beautiful trees. I haven't had much time to play the wealth of holiday CDs that we have. At least there's always next year. I haven't made festive breads or cookies. Ah, well.
I like the sense of a new beginning, a fresh start, that comes with a new year. Let me focus on that.
Still, today feels like a Monday. And it will be a longer day than usual--we have new student orientation tonight. It's a return to regular life, but not in the gentle re-entry way that would be my preference.
Here's a prayer that I wrote a few years ago for this kind of return to regular life:
Creator God, be with us on this day when so many of us leave our holidays behind and return to our regular lives. Give us extra measures of patience. Give us creative solutions that we might never have seen without our time away. Be with those looking for work. Be with those who are frustrated with the work we have. And help us all to realize that the important work may not be in our workplaces at all.
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