As I mean to go on

I don’t want to talk about Christmas – do you?  I mean, we did it, such as it was, but the whole thing was a little hollow for me. (If by “a little hollow” you understand that I mean it was horrible and a husk of a season, and left me miserable beyond measure.) Ontario is back in the kind of lockdown we were in the spring (and have been for a while now) with no family bubbles and no shops open and no haircuts again. (Already we are all looking scruffy.)  We did all the right things. I arranged our annual Gingerbread Party over Zoom – I baked cookies and made icing and dropped them off at the doors of all parties concerned.


We had Old Joe do the annual reading of Santa Mouse for all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – again, Zoom. We opened presents with each other on *&^$Cing Zoom, and while I am normally a very resilient and optimistic person, I admit that this season just knocked the snot out of me. I’m so tired of this stupid pandemic. I was overwhelmed this holiday by thoughts of how things were “supposed to be” and that included missing my mum, Tupp, Susan and my Uncle Tom (Mum and Tupps brother) died just two weeks before Christmas, and of course – little Charlotte, who was supposed to be fat and happy, crawling around and trying to eat paper. Ironically – it’s that sense of loss that’s made us so careful.  We can’t stand the thought that another family would lose someone because we blew it – so this is it, for now – and on the upside I did learn a ton about what Christmas means to us – and surprise surprise, a lot of the things I work at every year don’t mean anything without people. I’ve always suspected this of course, I mean, I have seen The Grinch Who Stole Christmas lots of times, and it’s not like I’ve been ignoring the messages out of whoville, but this really brought it home. I bet it was like that for a lot of you too.

Long story short, I should have cancelled the thing rather than giving it a go under these circumstances, and as a result I’ve bought 4 boxes of Christmas crackers, and Amanda has an artificial tree and the minute that the restrictions allow everyone we love to be together, we are having a *&^%$ing Christmas complete with wearing the hats and putting up a tree and I don’t care if that’s August. Screw you Covid.

So, I’m moving on. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, then you know that we have lots of traditions around the New Year. Ahead of midnight on the 31st; I pay all my bills, I clean the house, I sweep one last time and throw the dust out the back door – all so that I don’t carry anything bad forward into the new year and I end as I mean to go on. I put coins out so that the light of the old year and the new year’s moon can shine on it and we’ll have enough money for the coming year. I make sure I have a first footer, a dark haired man who’s the first across my threshold after midnight, and on the first day of the New Year I do a little of everything that I’d like to carry into the rest of the year, and start a new project. I also don’t do laundry on the first, so that no-one is washed away in the year that follows.

Now, mostly, I do this because it’s fun. My mum always did it, and she wasn’t at all superstitious, but I love the way it gives our family a sense of tradition, ceremony and contributes to our family culture. It’s how we do things, and it feels good. Last year though, if you remember, Joe talked me into going away for New Years. I left the morning of the 27th and flew to Nova Scotia for my Uncle Tom and Aunt Helen’s 50th wedding anniversary party (boy am I glad I did that now) and after a few days there, went to Banff to meet Joe. I completed none of the traditions. The house was a mess, I wasn’t even there, I think Joe washed some ski socks in the sink, I didn’t sweep. (Duh, hotel room.) Now, I’m not superstitious either, but I cannot help but notice that the one year I skipped… well. I’m sure there’s no connection, but you can be assured that I have spent the last week cleaning this house within an inch of it’s life. Closets, cupboards, whole rooms cleaned and repainted, I even put down the shelf paper that I bought at the beginning of the pandemic. Every room is edited, tidied, and at its best and I am taking not one molecule of last year’s crap forward, and you can bet that tomorrow I won’t wash anything (except myself which my mum says is not only allowed but encouraged) and you can bet that I’m ending this year as I mean to go on.

2020, don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out.

134 thoughts on “As I mean to go on

  1. I hope the coming year will definitely be a better one than this past one. I live in a hot spot area in Texas and I’m certainly tired of all the idiots who won’t wear masks. But all my close family actually lives close enough to wave to and that has to do for now. I’m about to borrow some of your traditions. Happy New Years in the plural from now on

  2. I don’t believe that you not doing your usual traditions at the New Year could possibly lead to a world -wide disaster. That would be too much weight on your shoulders.

    • I agree. You, Steph have a lot of talents and power, but not THAT much power that not doing your traditional New Year’s rituals a year ago could have possibly led to the pandemic and dear Charlotte’s and your uncle’s deaths. I hope you can take that load of guilt off your shoulders and feel a bit lighter.

  3. I live in a state with a lot of restrictions too. It blows my mind how differently others in less restrictive states are experiencing this pandemic (and also how much more loss they have and seem to shrug off as inevitable). However, the vaccine makes me hopeful for 2021!!! How is the vaccine being distributed in Canada? I get mine next week (in healthcare) and I can’t wait! Not much will change initially but as time goes on and more and more people are vaccinated things will get better and shouldn’t worsen. Hold on to hope (and that fake Christmas tree)!

  4. Wow! I had no idea you skipped the traditions last year. In the American southern states we eat black eyed peas for luck, something green (the color of money) to ensure financial health , pork because a pig can’t look back and something sweet to sweeten the new year. I’ll try to do my part tomorrow and no laundry just for good measure. Thank you for writing this blog.

    • Yup, Black-eyed Peas – Texas Caviar – for me, carrot cake for sweet, ham for the pork, and green will be cilantro in my Texas Caviar. A good meditative shower to wash the old year off.

      • After my stepfather died, my mom created her own New Year tradition of carrots for happiness. You’ve got that covered with your carrot cake!

    • Our sweet is homemade Beignets on New Year’s Day. along with mimosas (which we had) and the Tournament of Roses parade (which was cancelled 🙁 ) and me in pajamas for pretty much the whole day. That is supposed to bring on more naps and relaxed time during the oncoming year LOLOL

  5. In addition to celebrating the end of 2020 (I’m not going to tempt fate and say the new year can’t be worse) and welcoming in 2021, my husband and I are celebrating our 44th wedding anniversary. Not with our usual dinner at our favorite restaurant, of course… But 44 years, my goodness! Life is just too strange, how can that much time have passed?

    • It’s a mystery. (My husband and I celebrated our 46th in 2020).
      But I have to say that even that many years do pass, one day at a time. Makes me want to cherish each of those days as they come.
      The really strange part of so many years is how we don’t “feel” as old as our birthday claims!!

  6. I wanted to edit my response to add: Both my husband’s and my parents and their siblings are gone, so we are the elders. That’s so strange too! But I guess we just keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where it takes us.

  7. Our tradition is to have pork & sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, and I have some on hand, ready for tomorrow. I’ve taken down my empty, useless 2020 calendar and put up 2021. Onward! to next year, I’m done with you, 2020.

    Thank you for your post, I really needed to hear I’m not the only one sinking here.

    • I am always itching to put up the Jan calendar by Dec 31, but I don’t do it, I feel like that brings bad juju

  8. Thanks for sharing your life with us in 2020, Stephanie. With the vaccine starting to be rolled out, it feels like there’s hope for better things in 2021. Homecoming will take on a whole, beautiful, new meaning.

  9. Thank you for this post, thoughtful as always. My dad was always the first footer in our family. I am not superstitious either but I do wish he was still here to do it now!

  10. Thank you Stephanie for writing today. I’ve been missing you! I would like to hope for all of us that 2021 be a better year. I lost my husband in September, so this season has be different for me, as well. I’m just now beginning to be able to knit again, and I started a baby blanket for a soon to be new member or our family, my nephew’s baby. We are all holding our breath that this baby make it safely, and that he will mark a new beginning of the end of the pandemic. I think we’ll be being masked and careful for a long while yet, but it looks as if there is some hope out there with the vaccines. So I will wish you a Happy New Year, and will definitely follow your family tradition of avoiding laundry, It’s as good an excuse as any others I use! Take care of each other, Stephanie.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my husband in September 2016. I didn’t knit for over a year. It’s so hard but it does get better ( not sure that is the approx word).

      In a few more hours we can say “2020 hindsight” and it will have real meaning!

  11. Earlier today, I actually teared up at the thought of 2020 being over for good. I’m on the other side now (having celebrated the occasion on my Animal Crossing island, as I suspect many have) and so far, it’s looking a heck of a lot better.

    • What a gift Animal Crossing has been for me, too. Knitting goes without saying…Happy New Year from the denizens of River Song, ACNH!

  12. Last year 2019 I asked a dear friend if 2020 would be a good year. With a twinkle in her eye she said, no, to hold on because it was going to get interesting. This year my dear friend sat across from me smiled at me and asked do you remember what you asked me last year? I said I am almost afraid to ask. Buckle up things are about to get stranger. This year 14 of the knitting crew I knit with has gone into isolation, since March 2020. I miss those women but understand. A sudden death of a young women greatly loved by many, not covid. Undiagnosed cancer. I feel like I am on an airplane with no destination, I am up in the air and I truly don’t have a clue where I am going to or where I am landing. I have a lot to be gratefully for, health, a great spouse, a home, and I am out in the boonies, an interesting change and we are hanging in there. No one trusts the media here, and we are all asking not only how are you doing, but have you heard anything. January 6th will be an interesting day here in the states. There is a general holding of one’s breath. Peace everyone.

    • Well you were certainly right about January 6!! In Minnesota when we say something is “interesting” it’s usually because we don’t have anything nice to say about it. You were so prescient!! Stay well!

  13. Just sending thanks and love to you. One of my guiding lights for all times good and awful. I hope you know how much we love you back. Maddie

  14. Thank you for posting. Missed you. HEllO things aren’t what they were. I missed everything,but it is different, God it’s time to enjoy whatever you have. Everyone should stop You know I can’t say any more. Please take care

  15. Oh how I have missed your posts. I live a few hours north of you and our restrictions haven’t been as long or as harsh thankfully. I know I am actually fortunate compared to many this year. My family and job are secure. My motto for this year is “one way at a time”. We’ll get through this.

  16. Sweeping the dust of 2020 out the door and welcoming in a fresh new year – we all need that! I’m out of underwear, so I’d better throw that load in now, rather than wait until tomorrow! Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy and soon-to-be-reunited 2021!

  17. Thank you for posting. I think I looked every day to find out how things were going for you. We are in Melbourne, Australia where COVID is more or less contained but we know that we are only a hair breadth away from someone spreading it again. I am so glad to be in a place where everyone wears a mask when shopping or when close to others. Shops and homes have hand sanitiser readily available. The most notable thing about this pandemic is how co-operative, kind and generous most people have been.

    It’s New Year’s Day here. I did a load of washing before I read your post so I hope I haven’t jinxed us! All the best to you, your family and all your readers.

  18. It is restorative to hear from you–and others with their thoughtful replies. If we survive this year I believe we can do anything. A sense of loss has permeated everything this year: work,school, exercise, shopping, eating out, casual socializing, camps, music jams…Not to mention the loss of loved ones. Here’s hoping 2021 brings positive changes to all our lives.

  19. Actually, let’s let the door hit 2020 right square on the arse on the way out.

    Best to all of you in the new, improved (I hope to anyone who will listen) year.

  20. My husband was sick (not covid) and nobody was going to be there but us anyway. There was no way I was going to wrestle with a tree.

    So the ornament boxes stayed in the garage, too.

    So the stockings never got dug out of them.

    I hung a pair of heavy navy oven mitts on the mantel. Uh, the high-heeled sock look, right?

    May the new year bless us all this time around.

  21. Try clicking on the instagram link on Stephanie’s page to keep up with a photo and a few words every few days. I’m pretty sure you don’t have to have an instagram account to see posts, though you do if you want to see comments, or add a comment. I have a few family and friends who post on instagram so I made an account there, but only use it to see others’ posts.

  22. I, too, will be happy to see 2020 out the door. I like your traditions. We don’t have any of those, but may need to adopt a few! The thing I miss most is quilting with my friends. We made a FB page that only we can see, so lots of bitching and moaning going in, which makes us feel together, even if not physically!.
    Take care, and look forward. Looking back only makes us cry. I’m so sorry for your losses this year and grateful for my own grandson, Elliott, and new Covid baby coming February 22. I will hold her a little closer in your honor. Hugs

  23. Hugs. I too am ready for 2020 to be kicked to the curb. I hope 2021 is better, I’m just not sure how quickly that may happen. I think we all just have to keep hanging in there.

  24. I find it admirable that your new years eve tradition includes cleaning. Mine…does not. However, in the spirit of beginning as we mean to go on, I and my celebratory bubbly–we are swatching.

  25. Normally I fuss about cleaning (I did last year!), but this year I am not even trying. Most of the work of 2021 will be cleaning up from 2020 burnout, so if I do some of that tomorrow it seems appropriate enough and even rather appealing. I do hope though that it is a kinder year. Fingers crossed (and a coin on the sill just in case).

  26. Amen to all that. Farewell 2020. Memoirs and books will be written about this year. Films and documentaries will too. Just not right away, I hope.

    Welcome 2021. Welcome pandemic end. Welcome the new.

    May we all find peace going forward.

  27. Your final line there is to the word what I’ve been saying this season. I’ve clearly been channeling my inner Steph (apart from the cleaning, no-one ever comes in the house so my standards have slipped)

    The dawn always comes, always.

  28. I never knew i could get good and reliable Doctor online who can really help people like me that are in need of relationship help. I got separated from my boyfriend he broke up with me and went back to his ex lover but after using the help of Robinsonbuckler (@) yahoo com, i got a call from my boyfriend that he’s coming home and he was sorry for everything he made me pass through. The result was successful and today, we are living happily……

    • Our 21 month old granddaughter would say “Uppy!” (Meaning upsode-down) in a very cheerful tone. Make everyone laugh when someone goes upside down.

  29. 2020 was indeed a strange year! Luckily for us, all our kids live in the city and we have been able to do ‘back deck’ visits. Not the same, but it’ll have to do for now. Trying to stay positive and hopeful for this new year. Wishing you and yours a safe, healthy 2021.

  30. Blessed be! Wishing you and all your readers a new year of health, joy and happy gatherings.
    For that matter, even if the reason is grief or loss-hoping we can gather. We need each other.
    Happy New Year.

  31. I think we all felt this sort of rage this year — and we all recognized that what we were missing wasn’t the holidays or the presents or any of that but the people. It just about broke my heart when my 11-year-old told me she’d gladly give up all her presents if she could just hug her family members again. Here’s to a new year, to science, and to better days ahead!

  32. Your post was perfect for the year that was Stephanie. Happy New Year to you. May we all have a better 2021.

    Yes, missing people, especially family, contact is the hardest part. Can’t reach out and hug those you love on Zoom!! But WE are stronger than than CoVid and WE will survive if we all do our part. Hugs to you and yours!!

  33. Thank you. Your “As I mean to continue” has become a theme in my New Year’s celebrations over the years. Sincerely hoping that next New Year’s, it will safe for all to gather with family and friends. Happy New Year!

  34. Well, just in case, thank you for doing your traditions this year. We also did most of our traditions on Zoom… Altho we did manage to go to my mom’s for Christmas because I’m her ride to doctors appointment and shopping and such so she’s been in our circle thru the entire pandemic.
    We started a new tradition this year…at midnight we all shouted Jumanji so maybe we could go back to the real world… It didn’t work but it was fun.

  35. I woke up this morning wishing I could hear from a human – and there was your post. It’s like unexpectedly seeing an old friend on the street; a quick frisson of joy. Thank you for all the posting you’ve done over the years, and may I say, hearing that you have done all your New Year’s traditions properly this year makes me feel better. Things will get back to normal.

  36. My family canceled Christmas mostly. No one wanted to open presents without people around, and I certainly didn’t want to trust my handwork to the Postal System (which I generally love but they are sort of a mess right now). So we agreed to Christmas in May or so, when we may be vaccinated or at least can do it outside. I was ok with that, I found no Thanksgiving was much harder for me.

  37. Thank you, Steph. You inevitably warm my heart, no matter what you are talking about. Living with loss is the hardest thing, I think, and the thing we most fear, but loving people in the world is the most important thing. So much love to you, just for who you are.

  38. Finally someone else is speaking my language. I’m right there with you Stephanie. We have a very small family and I’ve never lived near any of them (only as a child) my children are grown and have moved away. Someone always has to travel. This is the first Christmas my husband and I spent by ourselves no family no friends. IT SUCKED!! We were to fly and see our only grandchild but cancelled 2 weeks before Christmas believing it was the right thing to do. Good RIDDANCE to 2020 and to a Happier and Healthier 2021!

  39. Thanks for a great year-end post.
    One step at a time. One stitch at a time.
    The post-vaccine celebrations and get-togethers, I really hope somehow earlier than August, will be tremendous.

  40. Ooh, thank you for mentioning not doing laundry. Mine can wait until tomorrow. Otherwise, having lentils and sausage for supper and having all our bills paid will have to do.

    I wish you a better New Year!

  41. We moved my husband’s family Christmas to June. If we’re still under restrictions, we have a big enough back yard and deck that we can socially distance, and we shopped the clearance section right after Christmas to get themed plates, tablecloths, etc. We already have an artificial tree, and we said while we’re at it, we’ll just throw some Easter eggs out there for the kids to hunt. Maybe get some sparklers for Independence Day, and carve a pumpkin if we have to.

  42. Dear Stephanie,
    As a faithful reader of all your posts, it’s finally time to send you a reply prompted your New Year’s post. There are thousands of us out here in etherspace who rely on you and appreciate your openness about your life–the highs and the lows. You inspire us, make us laugh, give us things to think about, and share your work with us. Your New Year’s post did all those things. Thank you for all you do.

  43. One year, when our lads were small, I thought we could have something besides turkey, just to change things up a little. I was told, “That’s not real Christmas.” This year, we were set to celebrate with eldest son and our grands and then the province cancelled Christmas – there would have been seven of us and the max was five (in a usual year we have about 20). Instead, we skyped with middle son far away and facetimed with the grands. My husband and I made the full Christmas dinner and took over turkey and fixings to youngest son who lives alone, and stood outside in the dark and had a little masked-and-distanced catch-up conversation. (No hugging. How I miss hugging!!!) It was fine. It was odd. It was okay for what it was – and what it was, was a way for us to keep each other safe and we did it gladly (well, there’s been whining, but I think that’s appropriate no?) It had to be done and we got through (and I don’t think the little ones felt the lack), but it was not real Christmas!

    The oddness continues as the lockdown also cancelled our grandson’s 5th birthday (New Years eve), our 37th wedding anniversary (4 Jan), and youngest son’s 27th birthday (7 Jan). I’ve never been so glad to see the back of a year as I am of 2020. Here’s hoping – now that your rituals have all been followed again – this new year is better, saner, and kinder for us all.

    PS: Thanks for the post. A Christmas reboot in Aug sounds like just the thing.

  44. Amen to truer words never spoken. My condolences on your loss; thank goodness you made the trip last year.

    Thanks for the reminder on the New Year’s “traditions” – we’ve got the first foot covered but wish I’d remembered the laundry comments before today’s 4 loads. One more day wouldn’t have hurt…

    Wishing you and yours the blessings of the season and a kinder, gentler year for us all. Namaste.

    Bonnie aka Knitsiam

  45. Thank you Stephanie for your blog post! Whenever you go them is always wonderful. Happy brand new 2021! Hope it brings blessings & joy to everyone. The strength we have gained from the challenges of 2020 will hopefully help us get through the new ones we will face & make all the good times sweeter!

  46. We aren’t quite as locked down where we live here in the states, so we had some family over for dinner and gift giving, but our oldest son got Covid the week before so he and his household were on quarantine. Their gifts are all under the tree and when it’s safe again, we will have them come visit. I love all your New Year’s superstitions. At our house we had to make pillowcases so everyone would sleep well and we had to eat cabbage of some kind, I really don’t know why, so today I ate a hot dog with saurkraut on it and made my pillowcases so we are all set! Happy New Year and I pray for all to be free in the new year to congregate with out loved ones again.

  47. Someone posted this poem. I read it out loud on New Years Eve as the clock counted down.

    “Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
    The flying cloud, the frosty light:
    The year is dying in the night;
    Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
    Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.
    Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
    For those that here we see no more;
    Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
    Ring in redress to all mankind.
    Ring out a slowly dying cause,
    And ancient forms of party strife;
    Ring in the nobler modes of life,
    With sweeter manners, purer laws.
    Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
    The faithless coldness of the times;
    Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
    But ring the fuller minstrel in.
    Ring out false pride in place and blood,
    The civic slander and the spite;
    Ring in the love of truth and right,
    Ring in the common love of good.
    Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
    Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
    Ring out the thousand wars of old,
    Ring in the thousand years of peace.”
    ―Alfred, Lord Tennyson

  48. So glad to see your New Year’s post, I was hoping. Oddly I’ve taken on some of your New Year traditions over the years as I think they make a boatload of sense. I didn’t get to the extreme cleaning this year but overall feel pretty good about it. New Years Eve and New Years Day are my two favorite days of the year, favorite holidays in general. So much possibility and hope packed into two days. Much love to you and the family, 2020 was just a bitch of year and too much loss. Here’s to turning the corner on 2021.

  49. Thanks for your post Steph. Yep 2020 was a sh*t show. Thanksgiving over zoom and texting separate household meals was kinda fun, Christmas with grab and go food exchange and a zoom was ok, but the scaled down New Year’s Eve is what finally did me in. Knitting has helped for sure. Wishing for you, your family and all of us a better, healing 2021.

  50. ….Every f*****g thing you said. I did all of our traditions, too, because I couldn’t bear not to. I refused to bow to the beast. It only helped a little. We have a new year and promise of a bit of normalcy. I’ll take it.
    I have thought of your Meghan and Alex so many times, having had a similar experience myself many, many years ago with my first. I have been hugging them in my heart.
    That beautiful son/grandson must help a lot. He helps all of us a little bit, too. xox to you and yours.

  51. Amen! Thank you, Stephanie.
    I never heard of most of these traditions until hearing them from you. (Isn’t it great all the different ways we do things?) But I AM starting a new project! Swatching (and swatching, and swatching again) for a sweater vest for my husband. Running markers and wet blocking, and evaluating my fabric, like I’ve learned from your Patreon! It will fit! and be durable! You’ve helped my knitting practices improve this year. (And I got a spinning wheel!)

    Thank you, and happy New Year.

  52. Reading this was a really good way to start the new year. I’ve read your blog in years past and had vague remembrances that you did things for the new year, but couldn’t place them. I’m glad you wrote those out, so that I can maybe try them next year.

    The bit of humor you put into the post was just what I needed to read right now. I hope that everything goes well for your family in the new year.

  53. I have wanted a New Years tradition for years and have been reading your blog for years…so, I stole your traditions and added some of my own: we made bubbly orange juice (for a sweet year), clinked glasses, we all shared a joy from the past year and what we are looking forward to in the next. (The six year old and three year old said, “No Corona.”) We played games and watched fireworks. Thank you for reminding me of the value of family traditions.

  54. We’ve been holding our collective breaths for months, it seems; mentally, physically, socially. It’s hard to muster the enthusiasm for the holidays when nothing feels very festive. But the days pass either way, and that at least is progress.

    This morning we woke to a deep blanket of snow. Everything is quiet, dim, peaceful, and still.

    Modified hibernation is the plan for now. Love to all of you!

  55. My family has lost one person, and soon to be two. Yesterday the family transitioned her to palliative care. Could be hours, could be days before the virus takes her. For now we wait.

    There was no Christmas tree this year. No travel to family. No Christmas stockings. The majority of the presents mailed mid-December are still in postal limbo.

    Like you, Steph, we did ALL the New Years traditions. The Wise Men got their plate of drink, bread, meat and money, outside the front door. The first thing I ate on New Year’s Day was a bite of black eyed peas and (because I forgot to put it into the cooking pot) a leaf of kale. I sure hope these do the trick, and 2021 is a better year. 2020 was hard.

  56. I do like the idea of your new year traditions, a way of moving forward with intention.
    This next year can only be better.

  57. You have had an awful year (perhaps a few in a row), for sure. The urge to do whatever may be in your power to change next year is understandable. I hope for you and your family that this break with tradition can lead to future traditions that contain only what is important to you and less of the things you feel you “have to do because we’ve always done that.”
    The bar for 2021 here is low – hoping for better than last year.

  58. Never heard the one about laundry, but fortunately I did mine on Thursday because that’s when I do laundry. No presents, but I did put up a tree because I love my tree, and Christmas tree sales are my local volunteer fire department’s main fund raiser. And although we are letting almost nobody into the house, one of the few is our handsome, dark haired oldest son.

  59. Very glad you posted as your holiday traditions are one of my traditions. I don’t do much else, but thanks to you, did a bit of cleaning as I changed the bed and put on brand new clean sheets. Shaved my arm pits. Did all the hot water laundry, but not the rest. Put the dishwasher through its paces. That is a lot for me, physically. I did much more last year–all the laundry, dishes, vacuumed, and look how that turned out. Decided not to push my luck.
    Also glad you did what you could family gathering-wise. Not as much fun as usual, but far better than sitting around remembering how much fun it used to be an experiencing full emptiness the entire time. Someone once told me you do these things for others, not for yourself. Wise words.
    Be safe and take care.

  60. Stephanie, I’m sorry that this Christmas—the first missing sweet baby Charlotte—was so wrong for so many other reasons as well. This world is just so off kilter, it’s terrible. I’m just holding onto that same line I’ve been repeating since March—this will end, we will be together again, in all the ways we can. Love to the fam, and happy new year.

  61. Some people get things right the first time — I seem to be a slow learner. Early in 2020 I found a pattern for mukluks, decided they would be the perfect way to use up my stash. Forgetting entirely that I so disliked double points that I had given they all away years ago. So then I bought more yarn — all you knitters knows that the first step to using up stash is to buy more yarn because if you need help from your LYS, you don’t take in a project made with yarn you bought some place else. The first mukluk I made hade numerous mistakes, but fortunately I was able to repeat the same mistakes on the second mukluk, which made, in a way, a perfectly matched pair. I was anxious to get them finished because my sister had just gone to the hospital and maybe could use something to keep her toesies warm. I’m delirious to report that I am getting better, keeping those stitches tighter. So good to hear from you, Steph. You were supposed to be at our spring workshop in 2020, so sorry it didn’t happen.

  62. We are very lucky in that because we take care of our grandchildren, the family is in our household unit. We were able to have a small dinner, the rest of our kids were not able to come. But we opened our presents on Zoom which was better than nothing. My husband and I got into our sleigh on Christmas morning and visited each kid and dropped off their stocking stuffers and gifts. And I had made some cinnamon buns for each of them to bake for brunch.
    My 5 yr old grandson did ask why the rest of the family was not at dinner.
    I did put up a tree but the house decorations were kind of haphazard and we never did get the outdoor lights up.

    Happy New Year to all, it surely cannot be worse than our last year.

  63. I know exactly how you felt and how you feel except for Zoom. Our only available wifi doesn’t allow it nor does it allow Facetime, it’s just too slow. However we did speak to our Grandsons on Christmas..they were posted from Trenton Ontario to Vancouver Island so there was not even the opportunity to “drop off”. I sent things early in the mail and really tried to get into the season..I didn’t weep until now, reading your post. I am so very, very tired.

  64. I try to be a reasonably kind person, but in this case I’m with Linda and say I hope the door hit 2020 on the arse on the way out.

  65. Has everyone forgotten what CHRISTmas really is about? It is the birth of our Savior.
    Surely I’m not the only reader who is Christian. My heart aches for all of you who have no hope and no joy at the birth of Jesus. Our family was apart, but our different congregations streamed services if someone could not attend in person.
    2020 was tough, but most of us still have homes and food, and all of us have a newborn Savior, whether you believe in him or not. He came for all people

    • Eh. Some of us are dead now, others are grieving, and there are a disturbingly large number of people who are homeless, hungry, stretched way too thin.

      I am Christian and still there is grief as well as joy; there is a long history of lamentation within the church (although you wouldn’t know it from the “put on a happy face and pretend nothing’s wrong” churches I mostly grew up in). There is absolutely nothing non-Christian about acknowledging that this world is horrifically broken – the world and us being broken is, in fact, the only context in which Christ is really good news.

      So yes! There are reasons for joy in this season! And there are reasons for grief in this season. There being reasons for joy is not a reason to not grieve (see also: Jesus wept; he knew it all, and he still wept – or perhaps, therefore he wept?).

      I kind of loved the December 2020 CT cover: a darkened Earth with “For God still loves the world” in small font curving around. We walk in the shadow of death, and that is simply Not Fun, even though there is also comfort. But if Jonah can yell about how mad he is because a *plant* died, there is surely space for this? (not that Jonah’s a great role model. But Elijah was still so tired he wanted to die; Job was grief-stricken and angry; and David repeats, over and over again, in the Psalms: “HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG?”… well, surely there is space for some of that “how long?” still.)

      • No question–this world is such a trial, but it just reminded me why I’m not completely gutted and forlorn–can’t imagine how hollow and empty all of life would feel without God and Savior. Absolutely rant and rebel against this world–I encourage it!

  66. I love your New Year’s traditions! Thanks for sharing them again.

    And if ever there was a year to sweep out the door, this was it.

    Hoping for better days to come.

  67. So glad for your post. Radio silence just makes me worry too much about what might be happening! Christmas was flat here, too. I didn’t put up any decorations (just the hubby and me) and we zoomed Christmas Eve dinner and gift openings (definitely NOT the same). We had my widowed sister over for brunch on Christmas Day. Supposedly taboo, but she is about as isolated as we are, and I couldn’t stand for her to be alone. We are in the cold North, so things that were semi-normal during the summer months have ceased (eating at restaurants outside), outdoor family dinners (with distancing), etc. Grey days and cold weather just seems to make all of this more depressing. I’m with you for an August Christmas! (And maybe a 50th wedding celebration for my cousin in October.)

  68. So I read your post and commented earlier but came back to tell you … a couple of my friends have said that last year they skipped doing New Year’s traditions, particularly the eating of black-eyed peas for luck. This time, they have gone out of their way to follow their traditions, one of them noting that there were no black-eyed peas left on the grocery shelves. It seems that everybody in town is doing their part to create a better year, and I’m willing to bet that the scene was the same in towns all over the world.

    We had lentils, which in some parts of the world is the equivalent to the black-eyed pea New Year’s tradition. It’s because they’re said to resemble coins. Some say you eat them on New Year’s Eve, and others on New Year’s Day. For safety’s sake, we had them on both days.

  69. Adios and good riddance, 2020! This year will have to be better—no other option, even if it takes a while longer. Stay safe and well.

  70. Glad to see I’m not the only one planning for Christmas ( maybe July) once things have settled. Ours will be complete with gingerbread cookies and everyone’s favorite dish.
    I have to say thanks to you and the many that are following the rules regarding this horrible virus.
    You see, I work in an ICU. I’ve seen far too much suffering and death. Too many people have not taken it seriously.
    Knitting has help to maintain my mental health.
    Your blog is also a bright spot in my day.
    So we stay the course, keep our bubble small and when safe…squeeze those loved ones often and for a long time!!
    Stay well and thanks , as always for your blog.

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  72. You are such a tonic and I wish I had even a tiny bit of your energy.
    I’m not superstitious really at all but I do love to start the new year at least semi organised – but the new year doesn’t really start until tomorrow, this being Nollaig na mBan here in Ireland (Womens Christmas) . I did get my desk and office, affectionately known as the Tardis, tidied and made a half hearted attempt to have the house clean for New Year’s Day without having any reasons attached, It makes much more sense when there’s a reason behind them … Have a safe 2021 with only good surprises.

  73. Throughout Covid – I blamed myself because I had the audacity to buy a pricey, dated, paper planner this year. For the first time in 2 decades.
    It was MY fault, the universe mocking – as if I had something to PLAN this year…
    So I haven’t so much as LOOKED at a paper calendar yet this year – not even in passing.

  74. Oh Steph, I love you so much! Thank you for your rituals! I too am sad we can’t do the usual things. But 2021 will be better!

  75. Thank you, Stephanie. Your humor and honesty are welcome breaths of fresh air at a time when so many are struggling to breathe. May we all enjoy perfect 2020 hindsight in 2021 and a year filled with love (and hugs sooner than later.)

  76. Thank you for this post. Besides the fact that I do not celebrate Christmas, I had been unable to really understand why people were so upset about this “holiday season”. I do celebrate other holidays and didn’t find it too terrible to celebrate this past year. Why?
    a) my family was/is not close. I did not grow up near aunts, uncles or grandparents. I have rarely celebrated any holidays with family since I left for college more than 40 years ago. I am single with no children.
    b) my immediate family changed with my parents divorce when I went to college (it was a good thing)
    c) many of my friends do not celebrate Christmas with family due to distances and family history and/or no children

    So, I appreciate this post for reminding me and helping me visualize what other families went through for Christmas or other holidays since last March.

  77. I hear you about the flatness of Christmas. We don’t have the big family togetherness that you all have but it was still flat. I feel like everyone was just so exhausted from the sadness, anxiety and energy that went into 2020 that by the time that holidays rolled around, we just didn’t have it in us. I am so glad you also have a niggling worry that you might be partly responsible for how 2020 went. I don’t worry about that but my part of the US is in the middle of a worsening drought. The last time we were supposed to get any sort of measurable rain, I was so excited that I disassembled my rain gauge and cleaned it within an inch of its life. That rain passed us by and we have hardly even seen a cloud in the sky since. I can’t help but see a connection between my attention to the rain gauge and the start of this drought.
    I hope your 2021 is better, I hope the world gets to reemerge and that we remember what a gift being with other people really is.

  78. My sister and I are planning a Thankful day. Once we can all be together again we will spend a day with our favorite foods and favorite games and mostly each other, our favorite people. We will celebrate being thankful to be with each other and never take it for granted again.

  79. The first time I read this it was for me, to make me feel like something was normal, Steph was posting. Now I have read this for you. My intentions for you are that restrictions ease, you get to have a family bubble and that you have a celebration. I’m giving you a virtual hug, sending you love and light and please know that our celebration was not the same either. I’m looking forward to better days for all of us, in the meantime I’m working out of my stash. Peace to you, better days ahead.

  80. Dear Steph, Here’s to a better year for you and for all of us! Thank you for this post. I am a long-time reader of The Blog but an infrequent commenter. For many years, I was simply amused by your family’s New Years traditions. Then, I went to bed on Dec. 31, 2012 with the house in extreme disarray. My kids were still quite small then and I was too overwhelmed to get a handle on the Christmas mess. We woke up the next morning to find our living room had flooded in the night. (A pipe had burst.) Nearly everything in the room got destroyed, including many of the new Christmas gifts we hadn’t put away yet. It was a complete disaster. Since then, I have followed the spirit of your traditions. I make sure by the time I go to bed on New Years Eve the house is clean (Including at least one deep cleaning project) and tidy, all new gifts put away, thank you cards written, etc. But last year, I was sick with shingles and could barely move and did not do all the cleaning. Now, I’m not saying that MY being sick last NYE is the cause of a global pandemic but, like you, I also spent the days leading up to this NYE cleaning vigorously.

    I live in the States and it seems that as a country we have carried plenty of last year’s bad into this year. But I am still optimistic that things will start getting better soon.

    Wishing you continued health and safety! Xoxo

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