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It’s January First (Again!)

It’s 9:22 AM January 1. Another year has come and gone or another year has rolled around, depending on how you look at it. Maybe you stayed up way too late last night or maybe you tucked the kids and yourself in early, exhausted from weeks of holiday joy.  You’re on that lovely first cup of coffee but contemplating the more dead than alive Christmas tree in the corner that needed to go to the curb three days ago. The last of the relatives have gone home and soon we’ll be back to our ordinary, daily routine.

For most of us, January 1 still mentally signals new beginnings, a clean slate and the opportunity to accomplish things of value to each of us. You have that gnawing feeling that you want this year to be different, but how exactly? This year, put aside the usual self-improvement resolutions and organization projects and try the road less traveled.

The old Scottish tune “Auld Lang Syne” (Robert Burns, 1788) traditionally sung at midnight to ring in the New Year, reminds us of old acquaintances forgotten and rarely coming to mind. Perhaps this is the time to ignore that tree in the corner for one more day and write a REAL (pen to paper and not fingers to keyboard) letter to that wonderful friend you haven’t seen or spoken with in years, and tell them just how special they still are to you. Chances are, that friend has had a significant influence on the person you are today. A “real” note doesn’t have to take long to compose or be pages long, just a few sentences to let that friend know they are still special to you. The few times I have received something like this in the mail have left me smiling for days!

If you absolutely must “resolve” to do something better/faster/different this January, take a closer look at the wonderful people you live with every day in your very own home. Resolve to use the year ahead to pay a bit more attention to what they do well. A few Januarys ago, I began noticing things my children did well and when they paid a kindness to another person. Unknown to them, I kept a list for each child and presented it to them a year later on New Year’s Day. They were surprised at some of the items I had actually noticed, as they had long forgotten most of them. The lists generated lots of great discussion over our black-eyed-peas and collards and served to reinforce that people do notice even the smallest kindnesses. Perhaps there are no children in your home or they are long grown; this works equally well for spouses and grandchildren.

In this New Year, use your most valuable asset, your home, to advantage.  No matter the size or condition of your home, that neglected friend would love to be invited over for coffee or a glass of wine. Catch your husband changing the washer in that leaky faucet or your eight-year-old taking out the garbage without being asked and thank them. These everyday small chores done well show pride of place and are what make a house a home.

So for 2014 at least, free yourself of the frustrating notion that you must somehow improve/reinvent/change your home or yourself, mentally or physically. Instead, focus a bit of your attention on how the wonderful people surrounding each of us continue to make us who we are day by day. No need to clean out the kitchen junk drawer for a fresh start this year. Don’t you feel better already?

Now, about that dead Christmas tree…

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