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End of The Year Musings

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Carol Bossard

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We’ve decorated, baked, caroled and the Season of Noel is approaching its end.  We do have until January 6th ---- 12th Night ---- before we must pack the shiny ornaments away and we head into true winter.  It has been two weeks of being together with friends and family, good church services and special music.  One of our remaining tasks would be sending out  Christmas cards.  We have more time now, to write notes.

New Year’s Eve is coming and it is, for many, a time of merriment and partying.  I somehow managed to escape the “coming of age” inebriation experience.  This wasn’t through any particular virtue of mine, although truthfully, I can’t comprehend why people would want to suffer again and again after once experiencing a hangover.  Simply, there was no alcohol in the house during my growing-up years, and a little glass of wine or a can of beer was never part of my culture.  Most of my friends didn’t drink either.    And after trying a sip or two in college, I realized very soon that I didn’t like the taste; fermentation tasted like something I’d throw away.  However, in a spirit of helpfulness, for those who indulge in a bit too much bubbly on New Year’s Eve, I offer this nutritional advice.  DO NOT drink coffee as a cure.  Two major effects of excessive alcohol consumption are dehydration and stomach irritation, which will also interfere with eating.  Coffee, which acts as a diuretic can cause more fluid loss and possibly more stomach upsets, thereby delaying recovery.  (This is also why, when urged to drink more liquids by one’s doctor, coffee doesn’t count!!)  Instead, you need to drink about a quart of fluid upon waking, and another quart over the next 24 hours.  Water and fruit juices are good choices.  Also, take a Vitamin B tablet.  And rest!  Hopefully, though, you won’t need this recipe as you leave 2022 behind and enter 2023.

Winter, with its varying moods, will be with us now until the spring Equinox in March, as well as several weeks thereafter. I view this as a sort of hibernation time --- why should bears have all the perks?  This thought from Serendipity Corner* concurs: “The winter is a friend if you make it one.  I look forward to the gray, quiet time for solitude, contemplation, leading long conversations with friends.  Colors are softer, sounds have more depth, the pace is gentler.  Instead of resentment at the lack of sun, snuggle into the gray velvet quilt and make yourself a cup of tea.”  I would, as an aside, disagree about the sun; anyone living in our region, needs a sunshine light; our brains need sunlight to function well, in addition to determined good cheer!

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Kerm and I don’t cease our coming and going, but we cut down.  I find it soothing, to not always be getting ready for something.  I enjoy reading new books, and re-reading favorites.  Two of the books in which I indulge annually are: The Nocturnal Naturalist by Cathy Johnson** and Wandering Through Winter by Edwin Way Teale.***  It somehow makes my winter brighter to remind myself of what the creatures around us are doing.  According to bird experts, owls are currently mating and laying eggs.  Brr!  A frigid nursery for the owlets!  But isn’t it reassuring that owls are sure enough about spring coming to mate and lay eggs, despite chilly winds and falling snow?

We can soon open fresh calendars and maybe --- possibly ---- even decide to acquire a fresh point of view or two.  For many years I constructed a calendar “from scratch” for ourselves, then for our sons and then for sons and their families.  I’d buy a large drawing tablet and start laying out lines for days of the month.  Then I’d add pertinent stickers or hand-drawn sketches, and the dates of family birthdays and anniversaries.  I finished with a lovely picture for each month.  Arthritis in my hands has made this process difficult, so now I purchase a calendar that I think is appropriate and fill in the dates, along with a few fun stickers.  This isn’t as personally satisfying --- but happily, I don’t need hand therapy afterward.  I like calendars in spite of the current propensity for keeping dates in a phone.  I like seeing a picture that illustrates the kind of month we hope it will be --- and I like turning the pages when the months change.  I’m a visual person and storage of my daily life in a mechanical device just doesn’t do it for me!

How do your days run?  Or maybe I should ask if your days race by, or are there periods of slow sauntering and maybe even stopping to enjoy the view?   How do you decide to fill your days?  I think most of us glance at our calendars, be they electronic or on the wall, and if there is an empty slot, we agree to do whatever it is we are being asked to do.  Our days fill up quickly, and suddenly, we need roller skates!  Growing up in 4-H, the accepted mantra, when asked to do something, was “I’ll be glad to!”**** I believe in volunteering and being helpful, but is it possible that we need to moderate this philosophy, giving our lives  more thought before we jump into someone else’s agenda?  We tell ourselves we just want to help, but is that all?  Is there a self-serving bit of wanting everyone to appreciate us, that makes us say “Yes”?  Several friends were recently talking together, and the question was: “What if we took the time for some spiritual guidance to determine our calendar activities?  How would that change our attitudes and our days?”  Interesting question!  Might wisdom possibly come filtering through quiet time and into our souls?  I happen to believe strongly in spiritual nudging but even so, I seldom think to ask for clarity about using my time well.    Do I need more time to rest?  Am I saying “yes” to prove I have the stamina for anything?  Should I, instead, be spending time in ways that stretch my mind and spirit?  Am I cheating anyone else by giving my time away?  And, perhaps most crucial, what impact will this have on my inner self?  Will it lift my spirits or depress them?  I’m certainly not suggesting we do not volunteer, but time, especially as we increase in years, is a precious commodity.  Giving more in-depth thinking to how we spend our time, before we scatter our hours abroad, seems like a useful New Year’s resolution.

“New” years don’t, universally, always start on January 1st; they begin at different times for different cultures.  In ancient Ireland, the new year began at the end of the harvest season --- bringing us Samhain, which led to our Halloween. The new year for Orthodox Jews is Yom Kippur, after the atonement time of Rosh Hashana.  For the Christian church, Advent, four Sundays before Christmas, begins the new church year.  Tet is the Vietnamese new year and it depends on the lunar calendar, but usually comes in January or February, as does the Chinese New Year.  Anyone with children may consider the beginning of school their actual new year.   Beginnings are exciting and maybe a little scary; there’s gratitude for the past year, gladness that life is moving along with us, and hope for the future, along with a bit of trepidation about possible changes.   I have a few regrets for this past year; the loss of friends through death and/or misunderstanding.  I regret the times I’ve been so focused on my worries that I’ve been oblivious to the wonders around me.  I wish I had used my time better.  Mostly, though, I’m filled with gratitude for family, for friends and for all the opportunities available to me.  I have concerns, of course, about the violence so prevalent now and the unrelenting “me first,” greed and desire for power that is somehow viewed, by many, as acceptable.  I regret the fear that drives people to reject, to the point of persecution, life-styles and philosophies not their own.   But I’m also hopeful that eventually, bit by bit, good sense and kindness will prevail.

This year could be much like last year.  Spring will come, we will garden and mow the lawn, celebrate holidays and continue what we normally do.  But one never knows how life may veer in a new direction.  I note changes in my own life.  Suddenly a good friend dies.  With no warning, my favorite destination store closes.  It is no joyful thing that my eyes continue to deteriorate and that arthritis sneakily bends my fingers further and stiffens my neck.  These are painful little reminders of change that demands more thoughtful coping skills.  Other changes are  more welcome; I have the joy of seeing our granddaughters maturing into creative and talented adults, of enjoying times with friends who are kindred spirits and of seeing glimpses here and there of new and good things happening world-wide.  So – for this next year I liked this little quotation that I found on Face Book --- I don’t know its author ----and will share it with you.

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“I hope there are days when your coffee {tea for me} tastes like magic, your playlist makes you dance, strangers make you smile, and the night sky touches your soul.  I hope you will fall in love with being alive again.”  And remember that each of us has the power to add to the light or darkness of the world ---- a bit daunting, but also a wonderful responsibility.  Happy New Year!

*******************

Carol may be reached at: carol42wilde@htva.net.

 

*--Serendipity Corner –New Age & Metaphysical shop in Kentucky.

**Cathy Johnson –An American writer, artist and naturalist.

***Edwin Way Teale---American conservationist, photographer and writer.  He documented environmental conditions all across the United States.  1899-1980.

****Dorothy Emerson coined the phrase “I’ll be glad to” as she spoke to 4-Hers all over the country.  She was my first “inspirational speaker” and had a huge impact.

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