End As You Mean To Go On

There’s so much to do today, so much to do.  Our family has a tradition of starting the New Year with everything as it should be. The house in order, scrubbed and tidy. The laundry caught up. (That one’s a total pipe dream. I just organized the last two loads to go in and then watched Sam take two towels out of the hall closet for her bath. TWO. Luckily I am a mother of some experience so I didn’t strangle her with one of them while screaming something seething with the rage born of decades spent watching my daughters dry all the parts of their bodies with dedicated towels.  I just heaved an inner sigh and knew that it’s always going to be the towels that stand between me and a perfect laundry situation on New Years Eve.) All the bills must be paid, there’s money to in every wallet and purse, and Joe’s made three trips to Goodwill with all of the things that are moving out of here.  My desk is clear, the stash is tidy,  but I’ve still got to dust and vacuum the rest of the house if I’m going into this New Year with everything the way I would like it to be for the year coming up. I’ll be off to the grocery store shortly to buy food for our Levee tomorrow, and stop at the liquor store on the way home for some champagne, we’ll make everything beautiful and ready for the New Year to take up residence in fine style.  I have even finished the Christmas knitting, except for Joe’s socks, but I don’t think that stands in the way of me ending as I mean to go on.  I mean to be knitting him socks for many years to come, so a pair on the needles on this night is a fine place to be. 

Tonight, I’ll sweep up the dust of this year and throw it out the back door, I’ll make sure my First Footer is a handsome, dark haired man bearing salt. I’ll put out silver coins (we use quarters, dimes and nickels – we know they’re not really silver) so the light of the old year and the new year can shine on it. Tomorrow we’ll wash nothing – to make sure that no-one in the family is washed away in the upcoming year – and we won’t throw things away for the same reason.

We’re not superstitious, we’re really not, but these traditions and rituals feel binding, and help us mark the time, and feel like we celebrate the holidays properly.  We like them, and they’re what we do as a family. (I don’t think the kids have ever been grateful that we clean for the New Year – but they do it.)  Our house will be in order tonight – and I hope yours is too, in your own way.  We’ll be ending as we mean to go on, tidy, together, and well sorted, champagne in hand.

Happy New Year.

102 thoughts on “End As You Mean To Go On

  1. That sounds like a lovely way to spend the last and first days of the year, but I can’t agree that you’re not superstitious.

  2. Best new years wishes to you and yours – peace for the rest of the world – even though its unlikely we can still hope for it and try our best to contribute to it

  3. We’re at the cottage, which is a good thing as we mean to spend as much time here as possible in the coming year. We’re with family and friends, just as it should be. Happy 2013. I hope it’s a good year all around.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your Start the New Year Clean plan. It’s 2:00 pm now, EST, and I’ll never make it for this year. But it’s definitely on my mind for 2014.
    Bless you for sharing your thoughts and your loved ones with us.

  5. Ah, yes. The towel situation. My 4 daughters were all teens at the same time, and usually needed 3 towels each…one for the hair, one for the body, and one to….STAND ON (right next to the bathroom rug)! My lovely old Maytag survived and so did I, though there were a few times I felt like I was grinding my teeth down to wee stumps. Happy New Year to you and yours, and thanks for the recipe yesterday.

  6. My house in order? ROTFLMAO! My house is never in order, but it does happen to be my New Years resolution to get it that way. Our city is changing its garbage bag limit in April (from 6 bags every 2 weeks down to 2, I think) so I have 3 months to purge. I’ll start tomorrow 😉

  7. Funny, I always say ‘Start as you mean to go on’, not ‘end’. Either way, the sentiment is the same – have a lovely evening!

  8. I love traditions, but cleaning is not one of them. Enjoy your family traditions and the best to all of you for 2013.

  9. Every year I think of this plan, and I think it’s genius. I got close this year, and then got derailed by a migraine. But I will try again next year.
    Happy New Year to you and yours, and may you be able to continue as you begin.

  10. So…do y’all only use the towels once? Because you know you’re clean when you come out and then you hang it up and it dries, nearly as clean as when you pulled it out of the closet, to use again. No? I think I would become a firearms owner and shoot everyone here if they only used towels once. However, if that’s the way your boat floats, more power to you. And you knit faster than me so maybe there’s something to it 🙂

  11. Wow. I’m exhausted just reading your preparations. The most that’s going to happen for me is that Tank the Basset Hound and I are going to be holding down the couch tonight, with a fire burning nicely in the fireplace, as I knit and re-watch “Amadeus” for the eleventy-billionth time.
    Happy New Year!

  12. I’m jealous- my family doesn’t have any New Year traditions. Best wishes to you and your family for a great celebration tonight and a wonderful year to come!

  13. Wow! What great traditions! We traditionally drink champagne and watch “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and go to bed well before midnight.
    Here’s to a happy and healthy new year for you and and your loved ones, as well as to the collective known as “The Blog.”

  14. Ok I need more info on this NO WASHING bit! How do you do that!? Does that include dishes? Not that I mind leaving the dishes, but being at home of the 1st is likely to generate a lot of them…

  15. Your family seems to lead a thoughtful life – thank you for the example. My house is also ready i.e., fresh vacuum marks on the rugs, dusted, doors/cupboards clean, happy dogs, desk organized. I had not thought about it, but those are parts I wish to go forward in the New Year. Have a lovely celebration and a healthy New Year.

  16. Sounds like an absolutely lovely way to start the year, although I’m exhausted just reading about it. We always have my son’s birthday to celebrate on New Year’s Day, so that tends to take up my attention more than anything else at this time of year. Best wishes and happy knitting.

  17. Dear Stephanie, I admire your talent and organization and your energy and your devotion to family. You make me try harder and want to do better – thank you for that. I wish you and all those dear to you a healthy and happy new year. Wendy

  18. I do so love reading about your holiday traditions!
    My house will never be thoroughly clean (if for no other reason that with a German shepherd, it is impossible for the dog hair deposits ever to be eliminated).
    But I have two wonderful joys to look forward to in the new year– my daughter’s baby (due July 31; she has rejected my suggestion of naming it Harry Potter if it’s born on the due date and a boy, though), and my good health… having just today gotten pathology results of my biopsy last week that I do not have breast cancer.
    So I will be ending this year and starting the new year as I plan to go on… filled with thankfulness.
    Happy New Year to you and yours, and to everyone who visits here and shares the delight of your blog!

  19. Would you please run this post again on Nov. 30, 2013 so that there’ll be a chance (slightly better than a snowball’s chance in hell) that I can finish 2013 as I mean to go on in 2014?

  20. What wonderful traditions! I had to laugh about the towels and the never-ending laundry…with one 20-year-old and one 17-year-old in the house, I can definitely relate to that!
    Wishing you and yours the happiest of New Year’s!

  21. Lovely! I’d forgotten you did all this. Hmmm, I’ve been throwing dust out for several days – speaks to my housekeeping I suppose. No wait – that’s snow I’ve been shoveling.
    Happy New Year to your whole family – two towelers and all!

  22. Happy New Year to all your Family! And thank you, for sharing your life with us. We are all busy with life, but I truly enjoy taking a moment now and then to read what you posted on a given day and smile. How you find the time, I don’t know, but I did want you to know I appreciate it. All the best in 2013!

  23. Your post just sent me into a fit of sobbing hysteria–I have nothing under control. My baby will be 1 next month, and your blog is literally the single thing I’ve been able to keep on top of since he was born. All year I’ve been wondering, how long was it since your youngest was born until you got to resume your knitting? Your cleaning? All your life’s stuff? I’m certain that my rav projects page misses me.
    All the best to you and yours this year, Stephanie!

  24. I love traditions but I’ve never heard of a First Footer or putting out coins before. What are these and what is the significance? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

  25. For a change, we, too, have a totally clean and organized house to end the old year and begin the new–but that’s almost by accident, because we just moved about 5 weeks ago, and we had a big open house yesterday to celebrate getting everything unpacked and put away! We’ve been purging since last summer, in preparation for the move, and did much more as we unpacked, constantly asking each other, “and why, again, did we keep this?” Today, we’re having a friend over, going out for dinner, then watching the fireworks on TV, and spending tomorrow putting away all the Christmas decoration and getting the house back to its new ‘normal’. Thanks for sharing your traditions, for writing such an honest and funny blog, and for making us all a vicarious part of your extended family. Happy New Year, Best, randmknitter

  26. A happy, healthy New Year to you and all those you love. Our bird feeders are topped off, the plants are fed,watered and happy, the Martinelli’s is in the fridge and the brownie truffles in the oven. Let the New Year begin!

  27. What a fine tradition. Very intentional and thoughtful, and worth sharing as you’ve just done.
    Here’s another tradition: don’t forget that tomorrow the first word out of your mouth must be “rabbit”. When said on the first day of the month, rings good luck all month long!

  28. I’m the same, I’m actually just taking an internet break before I tackle the dishes and the kitchen!
    I hadn’t heard the one about silver coins though, do you put them outside for the light to shine on them?

  29. I should be cleaning right now. All of the cooking is done after all, but instead I’m reading about cleaning.
    For me, cooking is my main tradition. Everything (housewise at least) else can go by the wayside as long as I have friends and family.

  30. Maggie at 4:00 pm: My mother said “One baby takes all your time” and she had four kids. As long as your child is happy and healthy, you’re doing fine as a mother and housekeeper. I suggest: Try to find a minute here and there for yourself, you need it.

  31. Maggie (4 pm) – You’ve taken on a new life this past year, not something to which you can assign only a couple of hours a day. If your baby is healthy & happy, you have things under control. You’ll likely be able to resume the other things gradually, if they’re still important to you. Have a wonderful new year, & enjoy the baby.

  32. Elizabeth, I have always heard it as “Rabbit Rabbit” (more bunnies mean extra luck?) Although I have heard a version that makes it “Rabbit rabbit hippety hop jump jump moo”. No idea what that means, but I don’t like to tempt fate. So, at midnight I will cherrfully shout “rabbit, rabbit, hippety hop, jump, jump, moo HAPPY NEW YEAR!” along with the rest of the family.

  33. Dear Stephanie, I always try to thank the people in my life who have made my year special, and you are certainly one of those people! Thanks so much for sharing your life with all of us. As for New Years traditions, I don’t follow your preparations, but we do try to do a little bit of each task we want to do all year long on New Years day — so no laundry, no dishes, no cleaning for me, but plenty of books, yarn, the Rose Parade, friends and family. And I wish the same for all of you.

  34. Coming from a Scottish/French blended family, we too start at the front door and throw everything out the back. The first guest can’t step on the door step and we sit back and don’t wash or tidy anything on New Year’s Day. Great traditions! Happy, happy Nw Year to you and yours! May it be prosperous, successful and filled with friends, family, love and laughter! Bonne Année!

  35. cecilia @ 2:44pm: i love it that you mentioned “happy dogs”! i mean to continue my resolve to walk or swim with my dogs several times per week, because that makes us all happy. so we had a good long walk tonight to end this year on a good note and set the standard for next year.
    happy new year, stephanie and family!

  36. Happy New Years to you and your family Steph! I made those Black bean tortilla things for the party were attending tonight, it was hard for me not to eat them as they were coming out of the oven! I’m sure they will be a huge hit, and with a few guests being vegetarians i’m sure they will be happy too! I hope 2013 brings you much love and happiness and I look forward to reading your blog as the year moves ahead! Cheers my friend! 🙂

  37. Happy New Year Stephanie! I smiled when I read about your girls not appreciating the cleaning part of your family tradition. My guess is ten years from now they will all be doing the same thing with their families!

  38. I have to say…..I’m so impressed at your foresight and energy to accomplish these things. What a great way to start the new year. My house looks like a bunch of people with more energy than sense have been tearing the place apart for a couple of weeks – oh. yes. That’s exactly what’s been happening. On the other hand, when the 2 year old grandgirl looks at the gingerbread house she made with her favourite auntie and her big sister, and says over and over, “me LOVE dat hooome!”, it seems like it all might have been worth it. But neat sounds so wonderful…….

  39. Just noticed Maggie’s post above – Maggie, you’re knitting a person. Much more valuable. Seasons for everything, and the others will return sooner than you think. I had four kids too, and believe me, the time comes so quickly when you wish they wouldn’t sleep half the day. You can knit then. (At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to have something simple on the needles that you can pick up at odd moments.) Be of good cheer…..

  40. Well since I’m reading your blog on New Year’s Eve that means I get to keep doing it all next year! Thank you for sharing your life and writing and humor with all of us. I truly appreciate you and look forward to each of your new entries.

  41. Happy New Year Steph! I have followed you for years, had the pleasure of meeting you twice, had the joy of you loving my cashmere shawl and petting it. You have given me joy, sorrow and thoughtfulness this last year. I look forward to 2013 and wish all of you a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

  42. My New Years Eve will be shared with the scent of singed cat fur – the cat decided to mark the occasion by standing OVER the candles! She is fine, thankfully it was just the fur that burned. I will walk with the rest of the town to watch the fireworks, and then return home in time to have a glass of wine, with some British shortbread. Happy New Year to you, Steph.

  43. Many people have the same new years rituals as you do, including us Chinese.
    Gung Hay Fat Choy!!

  44. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have downloaded a bunch of new games on my Kindle Fire.I will watch Little Women with my daughter and drink sour apple martini’s.Hope I can stay awake,lol!
    My husband is watching movies with my grandaughter in the livingroom and eating popcorn and snacks.

  45. Happy New Year!
    Every “Blessing” to you and yours. And, of course, Happy Stitching!
    Oh yes, and do keep all new calendars hidden until after mighnight!

  46. Hmmm? Should I panic because it is now 9:20 pm and I have just read that I can’t do laundry or clean on New Year’s Day…and there is no way that is going to happen before midnight!
    And I thought I was covered because the black-eyed peas are soaking and all the ingredients for them and the collards are in the house!

  47. Oh how I LOVE your traditions!! My Mom always says ‘Do on the first of the year what you want to be doing for the rest of the year.’ This year that will mean DECLUTTERING!! Paying off debt and getting back to taking care of ME!! (since these dang cats aren’t about to do it – haha!!) And I hope to do next year as you are doing this year. And for Maggie at 4:00, I do not have children but I still am not at all ‘together’. Another ‘tool’ I will be using next year (EST so it’s still 2012 for me…) is Flylady. She has a great system and you, of course, can make it your own. Happy New Year to all! Stephanie, thanks for a million laughs and tears (usually of laughter). (and for some of the ‘new’ kids, I was searching for something and ended up reading the post about the passing of Mike White in 2005…. (I think that was the hamster’s name.) ) See you next year!!

  48. Unlike you, dear Stephanie, only my yarn and fiber are organized — and i’m ok with that. Your traditions are beautiful, but I know I wouldn’t go on as i started, so i’ll not try to emulate you.
    Soon i’ll toast 2013 with some rum brought back from a wonderful month of studying in Mexico. Then i’ll try to get to sleep before the neighbors start setting off firecrackers at midnight.
    ¡Feliz y Prospero Año Nuevo a todos!

  49. I am happy for you! I truly am. Uhm, the only reason my house is clean today (and the laundry is done. Done!!!!), is that I had to clean for the house sitter who is coming to take care of the goats and ducks, so we can take off for our epic six week road trip in search for sunshine! Happy New Year! Cheers!

  50. Oh how I loved this post..reminded me of home….so long ago…tonight, I sit in my living room, watching TV and waiting for the big apple to fall…I am not complaining, life is good, and I am warm and cozy…it is the memory of such traditions that I hold so dear that I love…. Thank you for the reminder…a Blessed New year to you… <3

  51. Wish I’d read this earlier; having a tidy house going into the New Year is a sound idea. Your daughter’s extra towel reminds me of the time my daughter attended a week-long Survival Camp. As the early-teenaged girls loaded their gear onto the bus one of the counselors stopped one girl who carried two huge duffle bags. “What all are you planning to take?” she asked directing the girl to open the bags. (Lists had been sent of exactly what they could take.) The mother intervened,”Those are her towels in that bag.” When questioned further she firmly stated that her daughter certainly needed those fourteen towels – two for each day, of course!

  52. Happy new year! I really enjoy your thoughtful posts and your family traditions. We spent new year’s eve in front of the fire playing Monopoly and charades – and this morning the sun is shining 🙂

  53. I was so glad to read this last of the year message…meaning it was much more happier than the last one… Happy New Year!

  54. Reusing towels is an ‘of course’ but you need space to hang them so they actually dry. This takes some planning and can be thwarted by multiple users of a bathroom. This space is lacking in many homes and almost all hotels. Ever used a towel that hasn’t quite dried for 3 days? Phew!

  55. The Happyiest of the New Year to you and your clan, Steph!! May you find health, wealht and most of all happiness in the coming year. Cheers!

  56. I never knew about these traditions. But if we’re ending as we mean to go on, we’ll spend the new year in a messy house, with dirty dishes and clothes, with no money. But surrounded by good friends and family… fighting a world wide epidemic while teleporting between CDC outposts… (we spent the evening playing a game called “Pandemic” which was a lot of fun 🙂

  57. We don’t have neat traditions like you do. But, I do want to wish you and yours a good 2013 filled with good health and happy times!

  58. I loved reading about your traditions – especially sweeping up the dust and tossing it out the back door! A very Happy New Year to you and yours!

  59. How charming! I love the connection to tradition, the symbolism of sweeping out the old, and sharing the wealth by passing on the unused. I like to start the new year with clean sheets on every bed. The Chrisrmas decorations will all be packed away before then end of twelveth night.
    There is just something fresh about January, as the days grow longer.

  60. I started what I hope will be a new tradition this year by getting rid of any packages of food that have been hanging around too long–a jar of hoisin sauce in the back of the fridge, a package of opened cinnamon graham crackers that is years old, some unopened packages of foods we have decided not to eat anymore (Kraft Mac N Cheese, anyone?) The open packages went in the trash, the unopened boxes will be given away. An entire shelf in the pantry ended up empty! It feels good. Maybe I will sort out the spices next year! (Ginger that I’ve had since I got married, in 1979? Maybe it’s time to buy a fresh package!)

  61. Happy New Year to Yarn Harlot & all the knitters!
    My neighbor is Hungarian, and she said she never eats poultry on New Year’s Eve or Day, because then all her good luck would fly away.

  62. I cleaned the litter box, and my husband carried out the trash, not sure that counts as “scrubbed and tidy”.

  63. Mmm. I only know the lovely Sam from her modeling shots, so I could be mistaken. But at first glance she looks old enough to push buttons on a washing machine :-)..
    How about buying her a dozen personal towels in an easily recognizable color? And a personal matching-color clothes hamper to put in her own bedroom? And then resigning from a part of motherhood that’s only a holdover from earlier times? Present it as a needed blood pressure control device…

  64. Lovely traditions–we are making up non-food rituals for the family to share at the holidays, and I’d really like to add these to our collection. Thanks for all your wonderful posts, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  65. OOPS! Boy does that messed up comment not portend well for the New Year!! I MEANT to say” Happy New Year to you, yours and the Blog. (the superstitious part of me is now terrified!)

  66. Me yet again. Does it count that my First Footer was my male non-neutered small black dog with slush on his paws?

  67. I love the traditions (not superstitions!). I also learned an alternate definition for levee! Happy New Year!

  68. Ah, traditions. I love them. Also being “required” to actually DO the darn cleaning helps me get orf my arse and do it :-p
    I’m afraid I’m a two-towel gal too. One’s for my hair which elsewise drips all over everything.

  69. Went to mass today as it is a holy day to pray in the 2013. I have done this for years now and find that it helps me ground myself. Praying with others is edifying and I get to meet new folks at the same time.
    I also get to see friends I have made this year and the year before and have the pleasure of wishing them a Happy New Year.
    I pray for everyone in this entire world and hope the very best for all.
    Please…everyone have a much better year this year than last.

  70. Happy New Year Steph and family! My tradition will be to still follow your blog Harlot and we are bringing a new life into the world this year, as we did last year….whew! I hope I survive and am still able to knit. My husband and I cleaned out the paint cabinet and organized it as well. If felt wonderful. I don’t know what all of the traditions mean, but they sound inspiring.

  71. Different towels for different body parts actually sounds kind of ingenious, says the not-so-secret hypochondriac in me…

  72. I’m not superstitious . . . but those rituals are deeply appealing to me. I’m off to google more about them . . .

  73. I LOVE these traditions. And I’m an anthropologist– do you know where any of these come from?

  74. I do the same thing on New Years Eve. Everything is clean and away, tree and decorations are lit and there is plenty of food and friends.
    Drove hubby crazy as I kept insisting, one more load then I am done, promise!

  75. What a wonderful tradition….I think I might start doing this, all good things to you and your loved ones in 2013

  76. I recently read Nancy Bush’s Estonian Knitting and was fascinated by the rituals and schedules by which they governed the necessary tasks of life. On this day spinning stops and weaving begins. On this day, plant the corn. I think maybe our break with traditions that bind communities have left many of us kind of adrift. I mean Roc Day. What a wonderful tradition!!

  77. Thank you for sharing your holiday traditions with us. I have always tidied up the house and gotten things in order before New Year. It just seems the right thing to do. Thanks for sharing your lovely family and traditions.

  78. We eat our greens and black eyed peas wishing health, happiness, and prosperity for our friends and family.
    I like sweeping the dust out!

  79. I am trying to find a pattern for the “guilt” baby blanket posted story April, 15, 2011? We have a very special someone coming in April and would like to make the blanket for her.
    Thank you for any help

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