As I was getting ready for the new year yesterday, I was writing a blog post in my head. I started to write it down too, and then realized that I was totally on the wrong track and deleted the whole thing. I was writing about how sad it was, caught up in the idea that this would be the first year of my life that I didn’t speak with my mother at midnight, that 2018 would be the first year that she wasn’t alive at all. I was writing about how this year had been our “annus horribilis” – the worst year of my life, and as I typed the words, they began to lose traction. That wasn’t all this year was. For sure, this is the first year I won’t talk to my mother – but this year will be the first of many years that I have my grandson. I went back and looked at the pictures I took this year for a little perspective.
When I was growing up, my mum had tons of traditions – for everything. Things you had to do or say or wear at certain times of year, on special days. When I was younger I thought they were dumb, but when I became a mother, when I started to be responsible for creating a sense of family, a team that was going to pull together, I saw the cleverness of it. These little things, these small structures – they give a family its backbone, its character, the ways that they are special to each other, and an enduring feeling of connection. “This is the way we do it… this is who we are… ” It’s strengthening. I’ve clung to those things over the last few weeks, trusting that our traditions would help me feel less lost, and it’s mostly worked. Yesterday was no different, and neither is today.
Yesterday I cleaned the house, did laundry, emptied a drawer, straightened a closet, urged us all to be in good shape as we began a new year. “End as you mean to go on.” I could hear my mum saying it to me – reminding me that the place I was in as the New Year struck would set the tone for the year to follow. I swept the floor, taking care to throw the contents of the dustpan out the back door – mum says that makes sure you sweep the old years troubles out the door too. We paid our bills, put coins in the backyard for the light of the old moon and the new moon to shine on so we’ll have enough money this year – mum was always very clear on that one. I shared a beautiful dinner with people I love, and I made sure that the first person across my threshold after midnight was a dark haired man. (As usual, Joe was sent out, only to be admitted back in – though he is getting so grey haired that I wasn’t sure that it would take, so later Sam’s boyfriend Mike came in ahead of her, just to be sure. The concept of a First Footer is vague on the details, as was my mother.)
Today I’m doing all the things my mum said were important. I’m hosting a levee, I won’t wash anything today, to make sure no one in the family is washed away this year. I’ll do a bit of work, to make sure that my work is successful for the next year, I’ll take a moment to tell the people that I love that they’re important to me, keeping them bound to me for the next year. I’ll put the coins from the new moon in my purse, and I’ll drink a toast to the people I wish were here. My grandparents, Janine, Tupper, Mum… I’ll look back, and then I’ll look ahead.
I’ll begin as I mean to go on.
Happy New Year, blog.
(*PS I totally just cast on something new too.)