I’ve watched the facebook and blog and instagram posts take a turn for the nostalgic this week, feeling somewhat incredulous that christmas is over and the new year is upon us. Of course, I love reminiscing and remembering as much as anyone, but somehow I just don’t feel ready to let this year go. Maybe it’s because we’ve enjoyed a long and as-relaxing-as-possible-with-todders vacation at my parents’ house and I don’t want it to end. Maybe it’s because it’s sunny and 65 degrees out and feels like spring has already arrived, kindly skipping the whole winter-doldrums and failed-new-years-resolutions misery. Maybe it’s because for the first time I feel like I know exactly what this year will hold and there’s no move or life change or big adjustment to prepare for, so what’s the rush?
But here we are. New Years Eve and I’ve cloistered myself up in the bedroom away from the kids and noise and everything, trying to feel this new year. I’m turning to what has always been my refuge: writing, recording, and processing this life that never stops unfolding. It seems even the slowest days blur into weeks and months and seasons and the stop-gap measures meant to get us through that one crazy day have become the patterns of our life. And as we round the corner on a new year we are living lives that look both nothing like I could have expected and also, in many ways, exactly the same as they did a year ago.
We live in a new city and have met many amazing new people who have welcomed us into their lives and patterns and habits with open arms. Our lives have a bit more routine now than they did last year. Drew spends his days in class or working on materials for the courses and tutoring he hopes to offer, the twins and I build a life around running errands and playing at the park and snuggling on the couch and visiting friends. We have a new church community, a new saturday morning family tradition, a new home that is mostly unpacked but not at all settled (so I suppose that’s sort of like everywhere else we’ve ever lived!), and plans for an ambitious backyard garden.
But how much have we really changed? As people, I mean. How have we been shaped by our toddlers, our moves, friends, jobs. Are we different people now than we were a year ago?
A cursory look around our home would tell you “not so much”. Our counter is still almost always precariously stacked with dirty dishes. Piles of laundry form a path from bedroom to bathroom to basement. I go through cycles of vigilance and apathy with home organization and toy debris: sometimes everything is neatly stacked away in designated bins and sometimes everything carpets the living room floor and migrates to the kitchen and we kick at it for days before reining in the chaos, always a little sheepish when we realize how little effort it takes to tidy our home after toddler bedtime. And nearly every night is the same, Drew and I in our usual corners of the living room. He works on coursework, sprawled out on the goldfish crumbed rug, piles of books and notes spread out around him. I cozy into a corner of the couch, folding laundry or reading blogs or writing, planning meals for the week or catching up with friends. I love that routine, but not the ever-present noise of the TV habit we’ve fallen into. The same as a year ago, once we get hooked on a show we have a hard time pulling ourselves away, even though we talk ALL the time about wanting to make more space for creative work in the evenings.
Perhaps this year we’ll keep the advent calm and candle lighting practice going. Low lights, quiet music, a few thoughtful hours. I loved advent for how it helped me to struggle into a new routine, even if we seemed to “fail” at it most nights. At least half of our advent evenings involved about 3 minutes of lit candles, two pages of a storybook read and several chocolates used to bribe children to stay in the room. But then there were a few lovely nights when the candles stayed lit and the kids went down easy and we lived into the silence and peace.
I want more of that in 2016.
Now, onto the nostalgia!