Getting Ready for a New Year

    For a lot of people, New Year’s Eve is a time to cut loose, drink a lot and party. For me, it’s always been a very reflective holiday, a time to look back at the past year — and my life, in general — and to face squarely my own shortcomings and to plan how I'm going to live a better life over the coming year.

    It’s always been a melancholy holiday for me, to say the least.

    Even when I was a child, New Year’s Eve was a reflective time for me. I’d watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve and try to plan a better year for myself, not in terms of random things that just happen, but in terms of my own actions.

    I have to say that 2009 feels in some respects like The Wasted Year. Down in the heart over my younger son’s departure from the nest to his college in New York and recovering from 2008’s string of disasters and near-disasters, it felt like all I could do to tread water. It took forever for me to write Naked Edge, and though I did some things, like experiment with growing my own veggies, mostly I let time get away from me.

    So this coming year — 2010 — needs to be The Year I Got Over Empty Nest Syndrome and Started Living My Life Again.

    Most people are older than I am by the time their kids are grown and off at college. I have friends my own age who have toddlers and kindergarteners, while my boys are 23 and 20 years old. I tell myself this is a good thing, because I now have the chance at age 45 to create a new life for myself. But...

    Well, that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

    I was visiting my friend Kat over Thanksgiving when I realized that I still have the same furniture, dishes, dish towels, bath towels and such that I had when I got divorced and my kids were little. Yes, I still eat breakfast cereal from a plastic bowl with the genie from Disney’s Aladdin staring up at me. I kid you not.

    Kat is an artist and has the most amazing house, with a mix of folk, Native and artisan dishes, furnishings and so on. Appalled to hear that I still have a household of old junk — my sofa and TV are 20 years old — she suggested I get rid of it.

    All of it.

    I'm not a shopper by habit, and I like to be frugal. But there’s frugality, and there’s stupidity. I think I’m closer to the latter.

    So this year it will truly be a case of “out with the old, and in with the new.” Not that I’m going to blow money I don’t have on the latest trendy junk. But with Kat’s help, I'm going to replace things bit by bit until the stuff of my Mommy Years is replaced with things that feel more like me in the here and now.

    I’m not sure how other single moms deal with Empty Nest Syndrome, so ideas are welcome. But it’s time to stop moping and start living again.

    In turn, I’m going to help Kat gain mastery over piles of paper, i.e., filing. It’s overwhelming to her but not to me. If journalists deal with anything it’s documents, documents, documents. So I’ll be at her place on New Year’s Eve firing up the paper shredder and getting down to work. Then she and I are going to start revitalizing my home.

    What are your New Year’s plans?

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