Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bare Necessities

It seems we always take the Christmas decorations down on New Year’s Eve day.

Needless to say, that means it’s been a busy morning for us. The tree has been taken down, ornaments stored away a bit haphazardly (which I’ll no doubt regret come next December), the stockings and snowman collection packed and sealed. The vacuum has been run across the living room floor, the rubber-ducky-in-a-santa-hat soap bar retired until next holiday season. I even got Charlie to take down the outside lights the very first day I asked him to.

I’ve replaced the snowflake door mat with the generic ‘welcome’ one and cleared the table space where the advent calendar sat for the month of December. Only one thing remains unfinished: an entire large cube of my beloved Ikea bookshelf is sitting empty.

See, I can’t remember what I had put there before it was pressed into service showcasing the nativity scene, so now it remains vacant, holding a place for what? Some sort of winter-themed décor, I suppose…or, here’s a thought: more books.

This is how every new year begins for me…unexpectedly--yet pleasantly--bare. I find myself face-to-face with nothing but a pristine absence of agenda, my life poised anew, waiting. Everywhere I look, layers are peeled back, the beds stripped of linens, the fridge suddenly devoid of festive art projects sagging under too much glitter and glue. I love it. Sometimes I even find myself inspired to clean the rest of my house. (Sometimes.) Outside my window, the sky is slate gray, the fence only half a shade darker, and the trees are mere skeletons, nothing but spindly branches against flat clouds. It’s like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting in 3-D, the bones of the world picked clean.

I know what’s going to happen next, though. I’m going to mar it, aren’t I, cutting a path for myself through January and then beyond, high-kneed and loping as though through virgin snow. We all do that, don’t we? We add. We complicate. We carry the baggage of the previous year with us into the next. We fill this new, sharpened view with speckled noise (yes, I‘ve rediscovered Photoshop, what of it?) because we crave that old look. We need to crowd our minds with intentions. With lists. With resolutions we may or may not keep.

But that’s ok, because what else are we going to do, year after year? We have to fill that space with something. We’re doers, we humans. We build things. We construct. We create. We change things out only to add new clutter. So as for me, I have two resolutions I fully intend to keep. One is career-related, one family-related:


1. Write three mornings a week, through sleet, through sun, through rain…and whatever other weather conditions mail carriers vow to brave. Submit--somewhere, anywhere--every other Monday.

2. Not write three afternoons a week, instead doing something fully-engaged with the kids. (As opposed to halfway-engaged: you know, the old “uh-hum…yeah…sure…sounds good” sort of thing.) Yes, it’s crappy that I have to resolve to do this, but there it is.

So. What are your resolutions? Or are you too good for such things, already completely content and successful, your world a blank slate each morning, perpetually refilled? In which case…please refrain from commenting. Ever.

Happy New Year!

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