I think we need to establish some New Year traditions as a family. This is tricky for us, since we have extended family scattered all over the country, so we never know from one year to the next where exactly we'll be during the holiday season. It's hard to establish traditions when you're rarely in the same town two years in a row. This time around we were in Kentucky for the week of Christmas, then back to Madison on the 30th, so we've been decompressing from the trip: unpacking, unwinding, and going sledding to get the wiggles out.

It's been nice to have a couple days to ourselves, but today has been sort of a letdown for me. There's no particular reason for it, I think, except that having no expectations or rituals made the day feel kind of empty. That and coming home after a week surrounded by family (we were at my parents' place and were fortunate to have Stuart's parents come to stay for a few days, then my brother and his wife joined us after Christmas) always makes me feel a little homesick, not for Kentucky especially, but for the people we saw there.

Also, when I look at the year ahead, I don't see any particular opportunities for me, which makes me feel both sad and selfish. I'm constantly evaluating and re-evaluating my personal life (which is good) and my professional life (going nowhere) and I just can't resolve my feelings about that. I'm in a state of total ambivalence. And also guilt because who am I to complain about my lot in life when I'm healthy and comfortable and other people are suffering so much more than I? That's my mental state in a nutshell, just saying.

So anyway, even though I think New Year's resolutions are pointless (after the first week, who even remembers or cares what they resolved to do?), I guess one thing I would like to do is come up with a plan for the new year next time around. Starting off with a clean house would be nice. Giving away all the junk and old toys we don't use and clothes we don't wear would certainly help with that. Cooking and eating good food is central to our family life, so we could establish some kind of culinary tradition. (For example, last night for New Year's Eve we made New Mexican-style flat enchiladas, a beloved dish from my childhood.)

Then again, how is that really so different from every other day? I'm always trying (and failing) to keep my house reasonably clean. I'm always cooking. I even always have a bag of old clothes sitting by the dresser waiting to be dropped off at the thrift store. Maybe my problem is just that I'm out of good ideas.

What about you? What do you do to welcome the new year?


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