New Year’s Eve is My Favorite Part of Christmas

The best part of the holidays for me is when Christmas is over.  I don’t hate Christmas at all.  I do resent what a big deal everyone makes out of it.  Both the religious people who are all up in everyone’s face with Jesus being the real focus of Christmas and trying to get everyone to pray and hail the lord  and also the secular people who are in a frenzy of joy and cookies and parties and a thousand different family traditions they must perform even if doing everything really stresses them out.  It’s the whole gluttonous atmosphere that I dislike.  Here at our house it’s very mellow, quiet, and we enjoy ourselves but I haven’t made a cookie since the beginning of the month, we went to no parties, we have no set-in-stone traditions, and so in the cocoon of my own house there’s been very little gluttony of body, mind, or soul.

Okay, there were definitely some chocolates and candy the kid went to town on on Christmas day.


The quiet week is here.  My favorite week of the year.  It is a week of introspection.  A week of summing up and counting down.  A week to wrap up old feelings and blow them off the roof like powdery snow.  A week to think up possibilities.  A week to clean and prepare for a fresh chapter.  It is also the very beginning of my favorite season.  The solstice passed fairly unnoticed by the crowds while they were freaking out over Christmas.  Though I must say it gives me great pleasure that so many of my friends (some of whom are huge fans of Christmas) did pay it homage.

Winter is here.

Every year I hear people saying how they don’t make resolutions because they will only be disappointed at the end of the year by all the ones they’ve broken and what they haven’t accomplished.  People come up with all kinds of work-arounds by making “anti-resolution” resolutions.  I love making resolutions.  I never hold myself accountable at the end of the year for what I didn’t accomplish.  For what I didn’t become.  What a miserable way to treat oneself!  Lord, I’m pretty good at ripping out my own veins in anger and disappointment in self, but I know when I see an opportunity for kindness and an exercise in hope.

Making resolutions accomplishes two things.  It is an exercise in hope.  What you want from yourself, from your life, from the people in your life and how you relate to them, what things you want the power to change and create.  And it is also the first step in realizing hopes into reality: mental visualization.  I believe that if you can’t imagine yourself being a successful person, you won’t be.  I believe that if you can’t imagine yourself waking up every morning to exercise then you won’t.  The fist step in accomplishing anything is to see it happen in your own mind.  Actions follow the mind’s directives.

The problem is that then you have to follow the mind’s directives with action.  Much harder.  What resolutions do for us is give us focus and they make us examine what we really want and then we imagine it.  Then we plan how to achieve it.  And then we work hard towards what we have hoped for, dreamed of, and imagined.  Maybe life takes us in surprising directions we couldn’t have foreseen and our resolutions become symbols of our continuing ability to hope for good things even when life is complete shit.

For years now I’ve had the resolution to lose lots of weight.  For years now I haven’t accomplished that.  Well, I did lose some weight.  But not even close to what I imagined I could lose.  But I keep coming back with that same resolution because I know I can do it.  What’s held me back hasn’t been completely in my control (not knowing it was medication related in the last few years) but I still come to the new year with my hope in tact.  I also must acknowledge that I did, in fact, lose 20 pounds last year.  Some came back.  But the point is – I did make progress.

Resolutions aren’t about achievements.  They’re about hope.  About visualizing your hopes.  They’re about building plans to achieve those hopes.  They aren’t about condemning yourself to failure.  If you look back and count all the things you didn’t accomplish every year then you’re just punishing yourself because you want to.  Because some part of you is masochistic and wants to see you suffer at every chance.  How about letting go of that?  How about looking into why you do that to yourself?

I’ve written all this because maybe some of you haven’t considered that there’s a different way to look at resolutions than you’re used to.  But the truth is – I don’t really care if you make them or not.  It will not ruin my own quiet enjoyment of this week of reflection and hope and summing up and laying out of time and action and dreams and reality.  This is my season and I know that the people who love winter as I do are very few (I’m thinking of all of you right now as I write this) and that for many this is the toughest season of the year.

For those of you who struggle to get through winter I’m wishing for you:  sun-lamps and warm colored walls in your home and plenty of distractions to get you through to spring.  Loved ones to share warm evenings with in front of a fire or under a quilt with cheerful things like hot chocolate and hot apple cider or wine.  I’m wishing for you some sunshiny days mixed in with the rain and the snow and the storms.  Read books about sunny places and stories that take place in your favorite season.  Watch movies that are bright and happy and warm.  Eat citrus – it’s like juicy sunshine in a fruit.  Find ways to enjoy what you can.  And always remember that winter only lasts 3 months.

For those few of us who have entered our favorite season of the year – let’s have the best winter ever!  I’m going snow dances in my head (dudes, I can’t actually dance so that’s the best I can do) and the windy storm that battered my house as I couldn’t get to sleep was wonderful.  I’ve got lots of winter squash to eat and I’m actually getting excited to plan my spring garden with my mom.

Happy Winter!!


  1. Ann says:

    We did go to one party, but it was family that we wanted to see and hadn’t for a while. Great people. Otherwise, your holiday and my holiday sound very similar. So many people were very grumpy about all the christmas stuff, shopping, running around that I really wonder why bother with it. We have retreated more and more from consumer expectations and find it very satisfying.

    As far as winter goes, not my favorite, but I do like the transition. You’re right, just 3 months and lovely of sunny citrus. Enjoy the season, my friend.

  2. Chelsea says:

    This is going to be a long response to your post, I apologize in advance…

    I love winter- I especially love it when it begins to get dark around 4:30. I’ve always found that very comforting. I don’t mind Christmas because I really enjoy the idea of giving. I realize that one can be thoughtful at any time during the year, but I guess Christmas is the major commercial excuse that requires that you be the most thoughtful of gift givers. I detest the commercialism of the holiday NOT because of the exploitation of Jesus but because it makes people irrationally crazy, and you are often given really crappy things just to prove you weren’t “forgotten”.

    It was a test of endurance every Christmas at my in-laws. They’re very into “the reason for the season” and my wonderful mother-in-law would open the meal with an absolutely dreadful poem (that she wrote) extolling the virtues of the holiday. It wouldn’t have been so unbearable if I were inebriated but alas, they had to stomp on that joy as well because they were all a bunch of teetotalers- ick, I don’t miss that at all!

    And with that said, what I really wanted to say was how much I hate New Year’s Eve. It makes me feel almost panicky- I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I never accomplish anything throughout the year so it just feels fruitless to celebrate (or maybe it’s because I never go anywhere on that night or have anyone to celebrate with who is over 21). And I never make resolutions- it totally depresses me. On New Year’s Day, I feel a great sense of relief that the holidays are done and that the kids are back to school.

  3. angelina says:

    My lovely Chelsea- how can you possibly say you never accomplish anything? Jesus Christ woman! You’ve been going to school and studying and working and mothering and becoming so much more than you were before which was already pretty fucking fantastic! Many people feel as you do and I just think you’re all attaching the wrong kind of importance to the night. I relish spending it as alone as possible. I usually abandon my whole family early in the evening and shut my door and put my headphones on and write and simply feel the turning of the wheels of the evening. But everyone has different needs and a different way of meeting them. I know this. Do this for me – don’t make resolutions that will make you feel bad. It obviously is the wrong approach for you – but at least let yourself imagine yourself as a graduate of your program, imagine yourself living the life you want with the people you want to be surrounded by (even if you haven’t found them yet). Just let yourself imagine your own success. Don’t worry about deadlines or timelines or any crap like that. Just promise me you’re spending some time seeing yourself succeeding in your own imagination at the life you’re working so hard to move towards. Okay?

    And dammit – give yourself some fucking credit!

    I would have died if I had been you at that very sober table of bad poems and spice-less food. Your MIL is such a kind and well-meaning lady and she’s so good to your kids but damn, she does NOT know how to throw a fun family gathering. That’s okay – you’re free of that now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (some extras for good measure: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Even among the people who love winter – you and I are (I think) the only ones who like the dark coming so early. Like you – I find it comforting. It makes me happy in a way I can never quite explain.

    I like Christmas quite a lot the way we celebrate. I think I’m best off with little exposure to other people’s mania. Unfortunately, since I read blogs for a living, I have a high exposure to people freaking out, getting frantic, buying up every last piece of crap from Walmart just because it’s on sale (not because anyone they know really wants what they’re buying) and the INSANE amount of baking. I totally get the enjoyment of baking around the holidays but I read food blogs and the people in the food blog world are on overdrive through the entire month of December planning their cookie swaps and parties (many many many parties) and I get so overstimulated by their aggressive pursuit of holiday JOY. Still, I had a lovely Christmas.

    Ann- I know winter is not your fave. You live in a region with a much harsher winter than I do and that certainly causes you more trouble than mine does. Truthfully, I’d probably welcome it all. One of the best things to do in winter is to plan your spring garden – that will keep your thoughts on the next season. Hang in there!

  4. Chelsea says:

    Only you would truly know what I suffered at the hands of a religious gathering- I’m happy to say that after a lovely kick-back morning w/my kids, I dropped them off at the in-laws, and went to the movies by myself (gasp!). I celebrated with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and loved every minute of it (w/the exception of the 5 min I missed using the bathroom- that’s the ONLY drawback to going to a movie by myself). It was a terrific movie and, overall, a very satisfying day.

    I wish I could just detach myself from New Years as I do from xmas, but alas, I cannot. I could go to school for 40 years (and at this rate, I probably will…) but never see it as an accomplishment. It might be because I am the same age or older than some of my profs and that just makes me feel horrible that I never finished a BA, and worse, that I’ve never had a job that was the result of my education. It’s terribly depressing…

  5. Ann says:

    Thanks, Angelina. It is a hard slog when our huge, long driveway is filled with 6-9 inches of snow for the third time in a week. My shoulder and ribs were in serious pain last year. We haven’t been hit yet, but there’s still time. eeek! Enjoy your favorite season while you can!

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