new year

comfort and new

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If you haven’t heard it already, welcome to another year!

As for me, I appreciate having a designated date on the calendar to begin again. It seems to come at just the right time, before I can spend too long regretting all my holiday indulgence.

Having a new year allows an opportunity for hope, for assessment, for recommitment. It’s a time for change.

But change isn’t always easy. It’s unnatural, it takes effort.

One of the big problems with embracing the new is that it’s not familiar or comfortable.

I think of a stuffed animal my niece has—a cow she calls her “Moomoo.” It is old, falling apart, and even when it’s washed, it still looks dirty. But man does she love that thing! It’s special to her, a reliable source of comfort.

Now, there are good reasons for comfort. It’s important for children to have things that give them comfort in a world filled with new, and often frightening, experiences.

And the recent holidays can and should be a time of comfort and joy to you. It should be a time to relax and take a break from the daily grind and instead enjoy the company of loved ones.

But, after all that, there comes a time to leave the old and comfortable at home and head out in exploration of the strange and new. 

Do you know any adults who are still clinging to those tattered old comfortable things in their lives, refusing to let go? Often it can become an unhealthy bond, such as an eating or drinking habit, a relationship, or a source of entertainment. Let’s not judge them too harshly, we all have our particular vices. The call of couch and blanket is a difficult one to resist, no matter your age. And all those screens with endless shows, games, and social media posts, who can say no?

Most of us will admit we know that too much of these things aren’t good for us, but they’re just so stinking comfortable. We’re used to the lifestyle they feed. Sometimes we don’t even enjoy them anymore—they’re old and tattered—yet we can’t quit them because of the habits we’ve formed around them.

And yet, change is possible. Newness awaits.

Now is as good a time as any for a change. Sleeping in and hanging around the house in your flannel onesie was fine for the holidays, but the New Year is here. I bid you, throw off the covers, clean up, get dressed, and take a confident step outside of your front door into the bright and brisk morning of new. Hey Christopher Robin, bring your Teddy bear along for the ride if you like, just don’t let him hold you back.

new year, same you

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Here we are again, another year in the records, another just kicked off. 

I’m telling you, I’ve tried to stop it, but it keeps happening, c'est la vie.

So, 2018 huh? How do you like that.

Me, I’m hopeful. I think that’s the general idea when it comes to new years. 

To hope, to hold on with a belief that the future will be better.

It’s not a bad way to go though, even when most of our resolutions don’t pan out.

My 2017 had a lot of big life-changes and I certainly didn’t accomplish all I’d hoped to (Ok, so I never do). It ended with some very nice holiday celebrations but also with some pretty heavy news.

So I’m going into this new year with definite plans for much-needed change but also with some fears of what is to come. Yet I’m also expecting the unexpected, waiting to be surprised in new and interesting ways, just wanting to enjoy life to its full potential.

The new year always seems like a trick of the mind to me. You’re still the same you on January 1st and you’ll probably continue most your same habits that you had last year.

Then again, perhaps it’s just the Jedi mind trick we need. Some people are only waiting for a good excuse to make a big change, to try something new, and the new year is as good an excuse as any.

I hope your new year is one filled with great expectations, even more I hope you are surprised and delighted by the things you never expected but secretly wished for. 

I hope, as always, that you take creativity by the horns and don’t let go no matter how hard it bucks. Even when it shouts at you to stop and complains that you’re ruining a perfectly good historical viking reenactment with your horn-grabbing ways, because, hey, all’s fair in love and creativity! Or something like that.

old and new

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The end-of-year holidays bring with them a delightfully mixed platter of old and new.

There are all the old family traditions, which have been celebrated for years innumerable. There are newly minted traditions as young families discover ways to infuse meaning into their celebrations.

Like many folks, we hang stockings up and fill them with small gifts. But this year, being in a different state, is our first for going out into the woods and finding a tree of our own (twice, with two different families actually). It’s something of an odd tradition really, bringing a tree into the house and decorating it, but there is something beautiful about it too.

One of our aunts likes to buy enough gifts for everyone, ship them over, and have us play a sort of gift swapping game—it’s always a blast. I know of a family that hides a pickle in their Christmas tree every year. I’m curious how that got started! 

Food is a big part of the season as well, there are some dishes you might expect to have around Thanksgiving or Christmas, but there’s always a chance your neighbor, nephew, or daughter-in-law could cook up something fresh and out of the ordinary.

In our house, we roll almond truffles and make fudge and you can usually find a hot pie or two ready for the family. My wife has a special tradition passed down of waking early on Christmas morning to make calcum, a family German bread. Oh, and there’s often chili along with oyster stew for Christmas eve. My step-mom has made berry crepes for Christmas morning, which I always found to be a special treat. 

You might travel to spend time with family and old friends or maybe this year you’re inviting some new acquaintances over to share a meal and presents with. 

This will be our first year hosting the family for Christmas, including three dogs (plus our own pup).

At the year’s close, it’s a time to reflect on the past year and a time to look forward to what lay on the horizon. It’s a time to cast off old habits and begin new resolutions (hopefully ones that make it past January).

Creativity also is a lovely blend of old and new. I’m reminded of the many notable sculptures and constructions I’ve seen made from found items. It’s a repurposing of what once was into something new and interesting.

Whether you spend more time bringing out the old or welcoming the new, I hope you discover many opportunities to get creative this season.

I hope you share your creativity liberally with those around you—especially if it involves pie. Not avocado pie though (trust me, it’s disgusting any time of year).

Whatever you’re doing and wherever you find yourself, I wish a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to each of you.

 

A.P. Lambert