Irish Examiner Saturday - Irish Examiner - Weekend
“What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?” So croons the velvety tones of Ella Fitzgerald. Which is far more elegant and appealing to the ear than my response of “Well, not a whole lot!”
Up until the last year, I had looked at the ringing in of January 1 as just another tedious aspect to the tail-end of the busy festive season. Gone were the heady days pre children, of luxuriating in the process of hair coiffing, outfit selecting and make-up applying prior to heading out amongst the masses. Where, shoulder to shoulder, we all in unison, saluted the beginning of the incoming year as the clock tick-tocked past midnight. Although we now look back upon such escapades fondly; we also view same through slightly rose-tinted lenses as we seem to have conveniently forgotten the perishing cold, as we hopped from one foot to another, in a vain attempt to keep warm in the never-ending queue for a chariot home.
But, as is oft said, ‘A lot can change in a year’. Now, I relish the advent of December 31 as an opportunity for reflection. Not in the deep-dive, introspective, overthinking kind of way; more a chance to look back upon the highlight reel of the good, and the not so good, moments.
Free from the expectations of arrangements for the evening, we will ease ourselves into the day at a leisurely pace. I am fond of the rituals of small tasks. The brewing of coffee in the morning; scooping the spoonfuls into the stove-top pot then padding about the kitchen tiles in thick socks as I wait for the impending bubble over the flame to announce its readiness is incredibly cathartic. As is the luxury of being able to spend the ensuing hours in pyjamas and the aforementioned socks.
The only preparations we have are simple and undemanding ones. I will put a bottle of fizz to chill in the fridge alongside the pastry which I will have cobbled together over the coffee. I will then fry off the remnants of our Christmas ham to utilise in a pie which will be eaten in thick slices later, accompanied by generous helpings of pickled gherkins on the side and washed down with the contents of the chilled bottle.
My favourite preparation, which is the simplest of all, is in relation to the candles. Throughout the month of December, we light a solitary offering in the window each evening for our friends and family who are no longer with us. On the morning of the 31st, I set out our well-loved brass candleholders on the same window sill. That evening, I light one of the candles and the other remains untouched. As the clock strikes midnight, I use the fading flame of the first to light the second before extinguishing it and bidding goodbye to the previous year while greeting the beginning of the new one. As the smoke trails upwards, I let go of those moments in the past 12 months which may have proved challenging and offer gratitude for allowing us to see in another year together. There are many others who follow the same or have a similar tradition; the ‘Goodbye’, to what was and the ‘Hello’, to what is yet to be.
I have never been one to make resolutions. Particularly as I have gotten older. Life, can be taxing enough at particular stages without encumbering oneself with unnecessary constraints and expectations. This last year, and in particular the second half, has taught me to lessen control over those situations of which I have none. To dispense with worrying need
‘ Along with a sense of optimism and anticipation as to what may unfold to replace the sense of trepidation these last few months. To look forward
lessly about outcomes which I have no bearing upon. I am very grateful for the simple moments in our lives at this time and this is a train of thought I very much wish to carry over into the ensuing years.
Along with a sense of optimism and anticipation as to what may unfold to replace the sense of trepidation these last few months. To look forward.
I would like to spend more time enjoying the simple rituals. I would also like to dispense with constantly rushing about. But I’ll settle for maybe a few hours of reprieve in lieu of being relieved of it entirely. It’s both an optimistic and a realistic compromise.
If 2019 was an entirely mixed and muddled bag for us all then I am more than prepared to fling the door wide open to usher in 2020. Who knows what the year may bring?
It is one of the greatest denominators for us all; the certainty of the uncertainty. But, that’s the thrill of it really… the unknown. It would be a boring gig if we were to know how it was all to unfold.
Happy New Year.