September and January: first I dread their coming, then I welcome them with open arms. I love their empty calendars and guard them jealously, even while saying,"Let's get something on the calendar!" to friends I want to make space for.
I adore a simple Christmas, slow and quiet, filled with wonder and held close. And though I loved this Christmas too, it was not that. On Christmas Eve, Daniel and I usually sit close on the couch with a glass of champagne and the lights all twinkly and get to bed at a reasonable hour. This year, I met two neighbors in the street after 11PM to collect tape that the elves in my house desperately needed. For the first time, on Christmas morning, our mantle featured nine stockings, plus the dog's. We had nine people I love, in their new jammies, around our dining room table for Christmas Eve dinner. And it was special and magical and...exhausting.
Our end-of-the-year trip was filled with treasures I will store up to keep me warm in the coming months. We spent time with all of our parents, four of our grandparents, and aunts and uncles and cousins we hold dear. The kids got to know their little cousins they don't get to see nearly enough. We sat across tables and in cars with each of our siblings, catching up, laughing and solving the world's problems. We ate and drank and connected and loved and gave and received. And on our nine-hour trip on Monday, we ached for home.
On the drive, Daniel and I mapped out our plans thus far for the new year. We have much more travel booked than usual, and we discussed our plans for that. But when we got to resolutions, I fell a little flat. I couldn't help but notice the things I want to work on this year are pretty much the same as last year. And though I had made great strides in all those areas last year, three-quarters of the way through, I fell flat and never recovered.
My friend who lamented starting the year with low energy texted me, out of the blue, to remind me of all I had accomplished last year. She didn't know I was struggling with feeling the weight of my relative failures, staring down a fresh new year. She didn't know I felt too ashamed to put my resolutions to paper, since I'd just as soon scratch out the date at the top of last year's page. But she spoke to my heart.
And so I greet this year wearily, and utterly exhausted. We spent 18 nights in houses with some of the people we love most in this world, but by the end, we had all started to unravel and yearn for solitude and the rhythm of daily life. Now, on our second morning home, I pad around my messy house that still features two haggard Christmas trees, bags of gifted toys we haven't begun to put away, and an obscene amount of dirty laundry. Though I long for order and organization, I resolve not to read any more posts about decluttering in the new year, starting the new year with a clean house, going on a Whole 30 diet in the new year, starting an exercise routine in the new year and, for heaven's sake, there will be no cleansing.
This year I will read. I will write. I will run. I will purge and clean and organize. I will cultivate closer friendships. I will help others. I will be intentional about how I spend my time.
But I won't start all of that today. Or tomorrow. Or maybe not even next week. I will acknowledge with gratitude the positive changes I've already made, the impact I'm already having. I will slow down and make sure the people in my house are tended to, that they have what they need-- first of all me, the one who cares for the rest. I will look with hope and excitement toward the possibilities of a new year, yes, but I will do it without losing sight of what is already here and good and mine.