I’ve been thinking about New Year’s a lot. Go figure. I have to confess; I’ve been thinking it’s a little bit weird. There is a big celebration and fanfare but truly, it is not that different than any other day. With other holidays, we are mostly remembering something or someone. Christmas is Jesus being born, Presidents Day is for Washington and Lincoln, Veterans Day celebrates those who have gone to war for our country, Memorial Day honors those who died in wars for our country. But what are we celebrating on New Year’s? The sun went down and came up again. Only now we put a new number at the end when we write the date.
And all the while as I was thinking these things, I was compelled to clean out drawers and closets. I think I might be a little crazy, actually. I found incredible satisfaction in throwing things away and creating empty drawers. The other times I have done this has been in preparation for a baby. And I found myself experiencing unexpected delight knowing these empty drawers were not going to be filled with all the old baby stuff I was finding had been shoved in them over three years ago. Really, I could do this on any given day. But somehow putting a new number at the end when I write the date was propelling me to clear through and clean out. It felt like the most satisfying scratch of an itch there ever was.
For me, it is partly that I have just spent the larger portion of my December working around the décor and tree that I enjoy having up to enhance my celebration of Christmas. And when those things are in my home, I tend to clean less. It seems so silly to move them all around to dust under them when in just a couple of weeks they will be back out in the garage. And who doesn’t look for a reason to avoid housework anyway?
So the dust and grime has accumulated to an epic proportion and by December 26th I am ready to take it all down and enjoy the empty (but clean) spaces left behind. And once I see those empty but clean spaces I am motivated to make more of them.
But this morning I talked to a friend of mine who spent her last week doing the same thing as me. I mentioned how weird I thought I was and she commented that it is not just she and I. New Year’s seems to be a time when as a culture we collectively embrace cleaning out our garage.
I realized then that New Year’s is not so much about the sun going down and coming up and then we write a new number at the end of the date. New Year’s is a symbolic new start. One that we get each day, but one that is easier to acknowledge on this day. Maybe you all have that figured out but I was just now putting those pieces together.
We are all invited to take an account of what is in our garage – both literal and figurative – and get rid of that which does not serve us anymore so that we have more physical, mental, and emotional space to embrace what lies ahead. And when I thought about the whole country – perhaps even the whole world – taking a day to celebrate the good and release the bad from the past in order to embrace the present and forge ahead to live more fully in the future I didn’t think New Year’s was so weird after all.