Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Change of Heart

A wintry picture from last year, because I can't post without a picture,
and I haven't taken any good snow pictures yet.

If you know me well at all, you've probably heard me say that New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are my least-favorite holidays, second only to the dreaded Halloween. In the past, I've been really down on celebrating the turn of a new year, for all the predictable reasons. It's arbitrary, it's always a letdown, it comes with the inevitable dread that accompanies the ends of weekends, vacations, and holidays. (A former boyfriend called this sense of dread the "60 Minutes Stomachache" -- that yucky feeling you get when the 60 Minutes stopwatch starts ticking and you realize that tomorrow is Monday.) Yadda yadda yadda.

On the other hand, you probably also know that my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I've been thinking today that, for all the reasons that I love Thanksgiving, I should also love New Year's Day.
  • Thanksgiving happens in winter. At least where I live, winter has generally arrived -- meteorologically, if not astronomically -- by the waning weeks of November. And I love winter. It is my favorite season by far. New Year's Day is even better, because it occurs in the deepest, darkest part of the season, when the nights are longest and the air is coldest.

  • Thanksgiving is all about doing nothing. Other than preparing a lot of food (see below), there's nothing to do on Thanksgiving. No gifts to buy or wrap, no decorations to hang. In my family, it's largely a day to sit around, watch parades and/or football on TV, eat, and perhaps play some board games. New Year's Day is exactly the same. By this time, all the stress-inducing preparations are behind you, allowing you to heave a giant sigh of relief. The only difference on New Year's is you get better football and a better parade.

  • Thanksgiving is about being with family. Admittedly, for everyone, this is not a good thing. Luckily for me, it is. And the same is true of New Year's Day.

  • Thanksgiving involves a lot of really good food. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie -- good stuff indeed. But in my family, we have a traditional New Year's dinner too: pork roast and sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and -- most importantly -- black-eyed peas. Woe to the one who fails to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, for they bring good luck and prosperity. And it's all extremely yummy, as I can attest, having just enjoyed a boatload of same.

  • Thanksgiving is a beginning. I've always liked the fact that Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season. It feels like the start of something very happy and good. So, why no love for New Year's Day? It's the ultimate beginning! It's the ultimate fresh start!

This year, I had a really great New Year's Eve and Day. Last night, I went to the movies with Preeti and her husband (we saw Juno, very highly recommended). Afterwards, we went to a New Year's Eve party. As the clock struck twelve, we all stood outside with sparklers and champagne to welcome in 2008. It seemed to me an optimistic and lovely thing, to stand with bright sparkly lights and equally sparkly drinks against the dark and cold, and wish each other well in the year to come. Today, my boys and I colored pictures and built a fort and generally lazed about, watching the yard fill up with the softest, billowiest snow. In the afternoon, my parents came and we had the aforementioned New Year's dinner, which I prepared after deciding this morning that I really needed to celebrate this day properly. My very first day of 2008 could not have been better or happier.

I've had a change of heart. New Year's is now officially on my Favorite Holidays List. At the start of my new year, I even adopted a new motto. Minty left me the sweetest comment on my beret post, in which she said that my photo reminded her of the rallying cry from Friday Night Lights: "Clear eyes, full hearts ... CAN'T LOSE!"* I love that so much, and because I am such a dork, I wrote it on little cards and stuck it to my fridge and my bathroom mirror. Surely it's a sentiment that bears remembering as I start my days.

And, so, to you friends, who mean more to me than my pitiful lack of emails and the like convey, I wish you clear eyes, full hearts, and the very Happiest New Year.


* I don't watch this show, which I know is a tragic oversight on my part. I plan to rectify this.



Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm so happy that you've enjoyed New Year's this year! I've always seen it as a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. May your new year be full of peace, love, and health!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Liz K. said...

Ok, immediately Netflik the whole first season of Friday Night Lights. It is amazing. Beautifully filmed, written, acted, everything.

It seems that in a year of change and new things, starting off with a new attitude about New Year's is a good place to start. I love it.

Now, if you could help me out with a similar list about housework, that would be great.

10:16 PM  
Blogger The A.D.D. Knitter said...

I feel that any year that starts out with sparklers and black-eyed peas is going to be stupendous!!

10:52 PM  
Blogger Olga said...

Happy new year, Laura! I thought of you tonight since the Decemberists were on the Letterman rerun. :-) It sounds like you had a wonderful New Year's Eve! Wasn't Juno great? Enormous vocabulary words falling out of the mouth of a baby-faced fifteen year old is always oddly hilarious.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

Oh goodie, movie/tv recommendations. I've put Friday Night Lights on my list and it says Very Long Wait :(

I'm glad to see you've finally got the hang of New Year. I think it's not what it used to be, but it's still very important to me. I wouldn't contemplate January 1st without a steak pie, which is the traditional thing here (Scotland). Big chunks of steak, lots of gravy and heavenly puff pastry. Well, I didn't say it was healthy, just traditional.

I seldom comment, but I'm a longtime lurker and I enjoy your blog a lot. I'm glad you got so many difficult things out of the way in 2007 and hope that 2008 goes well for you - a very happy and healthy new year to you and the boys.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Sourire11 said...

Happy New Year to you and your boys! I really enjoyed this post - I'm with you that New Years was always sortof a let down. Never quite lived up to the expectations...

and I am LOVING all of this snow!

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, another inspirational post! Thank you! New Year's was always my least favorite holiday too, but I've been trying to pep it up a bit the past few years. I love the outside champagne & sparklers idea. Sounds absolutely beautiful! Oh, and this year was my first to ring in the New Year with black eyed peas (and cornbread and mayo!), so apparently things are going well already! All the best to you!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Lolly said...

Inspirational and thoughtful - it is like a blessing for the new year! :)

7:01 AM  
Blogger The A.D.D. Knitter said...

Here is something that will make your heart skip a beat!

7:07 AM  
Blogger Mama Urchin said...

Happy New Year!

8:52 AM  
Blogger maryse said...

lovely post and lovely photo. i avoided the 60 minutes stomachache this year by not going back to work until today. ;)

happy new year!

1:36 PM  
Blogger Dr. B. said...

What a great post! It's so nice to hear when people revisit a long-held position and ultimately find new places to stand. Your celebration sounds absolutely wonderful.

Thank you also for sharing the "clear eyes" quote... it's really lovely.

Happy, Happy New Year to you! May this year be the best yet!!

3:33 PM  
Blogger Debbi said...

Because I haven't seen Friday Night Lights yet, I had never heard this inspiring quote before. Thanks! It's on my fridge now too.

:) Have a great 2008!

6:01 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Thanks for sharing. I love that quote and I will add that show to my DVR list to record. Happy new year.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Acornbud said...

Lovely sentiments and such a great picture. Happy 2008!

11:11 AM  
Blogger Wishful Knitting said...

I am happy for you! I love all holidays, really, it's strange. New Years is about a fresh start and can be full of hope. Hooray for you!

4:09 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

So glad your new year is looking well, and that really is a beautiful snow picture, no matter what year it was taken!
Happy knitting-

5:09 PM  
Blogger jessie said...

Glad to hear you are looking forward to a good New Year. My personal motto is "Nothing is easy," which seems to be true and yet isn't nearly as heartwarming as yours. :-)

6:46 AM  
Blogger Laura Sue said...

Hi! I tried to comment a few days ago but blogger wouldn't let me. :( What I wanted to say was, thanks for the Clear eyes... quote. I don't have TV, so don't get some of the nice things that are on there--so I appreciate your sharing it. I wanted to share a quote that I have posted up by my desk: "Forget mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you're going to do today and do it. Today is your lucky day." -Will Durant. I'm a regular reader, if not a regular commenter. Keep on, girl. Many out here rooting for you.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

I just love that photo!! Friday Night Lights is a favorit of mine!!

4:35 AM  
Blogger christine karr said...

I've been absent from blogland for some months, being absolutely out of my mind with legal stuff that demands my complete attention. So sorry to hear about the divorce - but, it sounds as though you have the very best attitude. (been there, done that - it is a fresh start).

((((((((cyberhugs)))))))))from one of your first blogland friends

4:45 PM  

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