It’s the perfect time to stop, take a breath, reflect back on the year that has passed and think about our hopes for the next.
Time whizzes by so fast and depending on the lens you’re using, the phrase “It’s been a tough year” rolls off the tongue far too easily. Has it? Has it REALLY though? Have you forgotten some of the joyful, incredible moments in your sweeping analysis of the last 365 days? I bet you have. I bet you’ve had some tough times but some absolutely amazing ones too. How can we make sure we don’t forget them?
For that reason, on New Year’s 2010 we started a new tradition of documenting these annual highlights and hopes in our family book. My awesome sister Lucy gets full credit for this wonderful idea and beautiful family record.
Each New Year the book comes out, a fresh page is turned and we write. We write with gratitude and hope.
First it’s our highlights of the year, a really positive way to remember the good stuff. Chatting with my Mum & my sister at Christmas (when our thoughts turn to The Book) we all agreed that we love going through our previous years’ diary or calendar to help us recall everything that has happened and how we easily forget some of the really brilliant stuff. Bringing it all together in one place is such a positively powerful thing to do. We have great lives and we do our best to enjoy each and every day of them. (OK, maybe not EVERY day of them…) But it feels so good to remind ourselves of this.
It has been a challenging year for us as a family living with Dad’s dementia. We started this tradition long before his diagnosis, but perhaps this is why our memories are even more precious to us now?
There are seven of us & we all have a different approach to our highlights, some write LONG essays with lists of events & anecdotes (…possibly me) some also document news stories that have particularly inspired them (I remember my Dad wrote about the rescue of the Chilean miners one year) and some write about just one great thing that happened (F was only 7 when we started the book so his early entries are quite amusing)
However we all approach it, the idea is the same – great stuff has happened this year & we don’t want to forget it.
I’ve even included haircuts I’m particularly proud of – it doesn’t have to be DEEP… (2011 – The Year of The Fringe. Good times.)
The highlights pages are then turned & it’s time to write about our hopes for the year to come. Not resolutions. Not awful restrictions or rules to beat ourselves up with, but what would we like to see happening in the next year? What would we like to MAKE HAPPEN in the next year?
This is always the really funny bit to look back on when The Book appears again at the end of the year, I know I’ve personally had some corkers…quite how I thought I’d be looking out on a healthy crop of allotment vegetables grown by my own fair hands – when I can barely summon up the motivation to mow my lawn – is beyond my thinking. What on EARTH?! The veg patch definitely didn’t happen, but the laughs looking back on it certainly did, as well as so many of the other hopes we’d written about.
We give ourselves the time to focus on some goals for the next 12 months (or in the case of my son, literal goals as he hinted MASSIVELY that his dreams wouldn’t come true unless he went to a Manchester United game at Old Trafford – of course it happened – oh yes, we’ve seen some clever uses of the power of the book!)
This time last year me & my son were living in a cold, damp, old house. It was filled with love but just wasn’t making us happy. When writing my hopes for 2015 I decided that we’d be moving house this year…but maybe not quite as soon as it actually happened…We viewed our new home on January 6th and paid the deposit on the 7th. We were moving! (Still no veg patch though….)
They’re not all as massive as moving house or changing jobs. “This year I will spend more time doing XXXX” is a great one and gives us the chance to think about how we’d like to be spending our next year on the planet. Watching our boys becoming men & thinking about their future is just awesome. Watching our parents growing older, less so.
By far, my favourite part is when it’s my turn to write and I take the chance to sneakily read back over the last few years of our family. So much has changed. Our kids are growing up. Our parents are growing older. Our lives are taking so many twists and turns it’s often hard to keep up. I always read it before I write a word.
Every curve in our handwriting represents that moment in time when we stopped to think about the good stuff. Every page tells our story. It is something we will treasure forever.
All you need is you, a pen and a book (ours has sequins….obvs, we’re a razzle-dazzle kinda bunch…but any notebook will do)
Our book tells our story. We are grateful and we are hopeful.
Maybe this year you’ll start your story? I’d love to know if you do.
Happy New Year x