Parting Thoughts: Navigating the Holidays, Embracing the New Year

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WORDS BY HEATHER MCCONNELL BROWN

The joys and magic of Christmas disappear as quickly as they come. Each year seems to go by faster and faster for me as I age. The holidays always brought joy when I was young- gathering at loved ones homes, exchanging presents, playing games, seeing cousins that you only get to see during the holidays.

Heather McConnell Brown

Laughter among the adults, hearing the same old stories every year about their childhood- but each year some detail is more elaborate with their recollection. These traditions carry on for a lifetime, but with every passing year, some are not there. I guess it hit me the most when I visited the cemetery recently. When I started to visualize those family gettogethers and more of those people that sat at the “big table” were buried now than present. Yes, of course we have new traditions and new family members will join in, but it’s never the same. This is one reason I will always contend that holidays are magical and joyful in your youth, but as you age, some of that magic dissipates. It’s not because one doesn’t believe anymore, or due to a different casserole recipe, it’s just that it’s different. No one likes change and change during the holidays is even harder. Take a look around…there are little ones looking up to you. You are the older generation telling the same old stories and not letting them sit at the big table. This is why you must carry on. Life may feel like it stops when we lose loved ones, but we know that is just not true. So we also must carry on and make our home ready for the new year.

The word “hearth” was on my mind a lot during December. What could I do to make my home and “hearth” more of a welcoming place for others and my family? As much as we want to make time slow down, we know this is impossible. When January rolls around we clean and de-clutter…in an essence we try to start fresh because the year before left us wanting for something. This year my wish for you is embrace the chaos, slow down and work a puzzle, invite people over even when your house is less than “perfect”. Because it’s the memories of the people and traditions that people remember anyway. I don’t think I have ever said to myself…oh remember that day when my baseboards were clean. This year, accept the dust, the chaos and make most of your time in the moment. Stop waiting on the clean house, the perfect way to take pictures, stop yearning for Fridays and live your best life every day. Although it’s a new year- YOU are all you need. Here’s to a New Year with the same you- you were perfect all along- now just go out there and share yourself with others. Seize the day, seize the moment and live BIG. So for the New Year, I leave you with the words of Jimmy Buffett. What will this year be for you? Will you be a pearl or an oyster?

“Some never fade away, some crash and burn
Some make the world go round, others watch it turn.
Still it’s all a mystery
This place we call the world.
Most are fine as oysters
While some become pearls.”

Buffett, Jimmy. Mcanally, Mac. (1999) Oysters and Pearls [Recorded by Jimmy Buffett] On Beach House on the Moon [CD]. US: Margaritaville Records, Island Records.