We are on the threshold of another year, the calendar changing once again as we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. I don’t know about your life, but in my own, I find that in the myriad of transitions I make each moment, I rarely stop to reflect. I long to take time to ask questions that matter: What did I learn? Where was I challenged? What would I like to remember?
We all say it: “time flies” or “the kids grow so quickly.” Every day we change in some small way. Kids get bigger without our notice, until the wall marker shows their progression. We age, and yet it only seems most apparent when we look at photographs from the past and notice how we’ve changed. It’s hard to “watch” the growth or measure the growth, but we know that it happens. And sometimes, just “letting life happen” does not afford us opportunities to reflect on the changing seasons of our lives and mark their passage with some intentionality and focus.
Perhaps that is why New Year’s has become a favorite time each year for me to contemplate where I have been and what I have learned, as well as to wonder about where I am going and what lies ahead. More than just making resolutions for the new year, I find it helpful also to reflect, for these reflections often inform the resolutions! You can certainly do this by yourself, but you can also take time to mark these in the company of friends or family. It can be lighthearted or serious. It can be formal or casual.
One tradition our family started when my kids were one and three was to draw or write significant events of the past year on one single piece of large manila paper. We recorded favorite trips or milestones (no more diapers! family came to visit!). We remembered the hard things like the death of pet or the move of a family member. My husband and I wrote down changes in our jobs or successes in our careers. Five years later, we have a record in our own handwriting of what took place that previous year.
A friend of mine reserves New Years Eve for family time. Instead of hiring a hard-to-find and expensive-to-pay babysitter, they cook dinner together as a family and plan for the coming year. They talk about each person’s individual goals and how their family can support each other in attaining them. They also budget big expenses in the new year and plan their vacations.
Maybe your family has a cultural heritage or a favorite country where you can adopt a New Year’s tradition. I studied abroad in Spain in college so one year we ate their customary 12 grapes and named 12 things for which we were thankful for in that year. Make your favorite foods. Make a new tradition (there are LOTS of ideas out there on family friendly New Year’s traditions).
Before you rush into another year of busy calendars and all the to-dos of being a mom, stop and consider where you’ve been. If you don’t talk about it as a family, get together with girlfriends for a New Year’s Day brunch or grab your journal and a cup of coffee (or champagne) and think about questions like:
- For what am I most grateful in 2015?
- Where was I most challenged in 2015?
- For what am I most proud?
- What do I most regret?
- Which relationships were especially important and meaningful this year?
- What have I learned this past year?
- Pick three words to describe 2015.
Each moment, even though they seem to go quickly, are precious moments. Celebrate them and look forward to many more in the year to come.
What do you celebrate most about 2015? What are your New Year’s traditions?