When I lived in Brooklyn, a friend/mentor and her husband would have a New Year’s Day brunch. It would start somewhere around noon and end when they could finally get everyone out of their house. Their apartment had a fireplace and in between eating too much food and drinking to either get over the hangover from the night before or create an entirely new hangover, each person would write down what they wanted to leave in 2015 and what they wanted to have in the new year.
The first list would be burned in the fireplace and the second list, my friend and her husband would mail out in June to each of us in an envelope we addressed. It was a way to keep us accountable: you said you wanted these things to happen, so how’s it going?
I miss that brunch and that ritual, especially the burning.
I’ve worked on duplicating it on my own. I’ve never lived anywhere with a working fireplace, but I’ve gotten a piece of paper strategically too close to a candle more than once before.
We chose what we burned, what no longer served us (relationships, habits, jobs), but in that accounting we were also deciding what we ought to keep.
I had some disappointments this year and found myself at different points of the year: exhausted or sad or confused. But, if I burn those things, I also have to remember what each brought me. Exhaustion told me the second job I took on, while rewarding, might not work for the longterm. Sadness told me it might be time to explore new career opportunities where I would feel better utilized. The confusion helped me to chart a new creative direction for a project.
And any disappointment reminded me to stay resilient. Mourning what didn’t happen for me this year has value, but hope–no matter how saccharine a word that may seem especially in a world like this–has its place too.
I’ll probably be spending New Year’s Eve alone this year and although I’ll miss getting a New Year’s kiss, I’ll be taking some time to consider what I need to burn and what–no matter the way it came to me–I need to keep.
Hope you do the same. Happy burning and happy keeping.