My family has a new year tradition: at five minutes to midnight, my dad, accompanied by me or my sister if we are there, wraps up warm and leaves the house via the back door, “taking the old year out with us.” We then hurry around to the front and wait on the doorstep in the cold until, as the clock strikes 12 and the fireworks burst on the TV, my mum throws open the door and we usher the new year in, fresh faced and excited for what it might bring.
I’m not sure when or why this tradition started for us (although a quick Google tells me it’s a Scottish/North English folklore thing) and it’s got a little logistically difficult now I live in a second floor flat. But I’ve always liked it. I think because it physically enacts what new year is supposed to be about. Shaking off the past, opening the door to something new, starting again with a clean slate. Well, kind of. Because we can never really start again, can we?
New Year is often seen as a reset button. A chance to reinvent ourselves with resolutions designed to change our personality, interests, desires, even body type—which we are, of course, doomed to break. One of the things I have learnt over this year through lots of conversations with different people is that, for better or worse, our past is a part of who we are and no amount of sweeping it under the #NewYearNewMe rug will change that. Obviously, I am not saying we should be dwelling on the past. It’s happened, done, no takebacks. But I think there is a way to let go of the things we’d rather not carry forward without rejecting or ignoring who we are right now and what has got us here, or without punishing ourselves later down the line when we inevitably slip into old ways or habits.
New Year isn’t a line in a sand, but a checkpoint on a mountain we will continue to climb. It gives us defined time to rest, take stock, reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t and make some changes to make the next leg of the journey a little easier. It is still the same mountain, and still the same you!
So, this year, instead of taking my past me out with the recycling, I’ll be walking with her hand in hand, into whatever new adventures we might find on the other side of the door!
What does new year mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!
Wishing you all a peaceful 2020 and beyond,