"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fast Away The Old Year Passes


"And now let us welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been."
--Rainer Maria Rilke

Why is it that the world seems to spin a bit faster with every passing year? At midnight on Halloween, I crossed my fingers in hopes of some magic that would make the calendar still say "October" when I turned the page over. The golden days had flown by so quickly, I could have used another go at the entire month! But, no, November it was! And no sooner had the rush toward Thanksgiving begun than we had overtaken yet another feast day and finished off another month. Any chance that we could repeat November? None whatsoever. It was December! It was Christmas! It's almost New Year's Eve! Time not only to turn the calendar over, but to hang up a brand new one.

One great thing about our neighborhood (probably yours too) is the talent that our neighbors have for keeping up with the rapid succession of holidays, no matter how quickly each arrives and departs. What a seasonal thrill it was to drive down the block the day after Halloween and spy the houses already illuminated for Christmas -- houses which only hours before had been festooned with spider webs and scarecrows! By Thanksgiving, it was possible to take the family on an evening drive and admire the winter wonderland of wreaths and trees and reindeer that our celebratory neighbors had devised for our viewing pleasure.

You can't say we weren't ready! Does anyone really wish that the decorations went up later and came down sooner? I certainly don't! In fact, I like to make a game of predicting which lights will last the longest . . . and with so many possible conclusions to the season, it's anybody's guess: The Twelfth Day of Christmas, Martin Luther King Day, Ground Hog Day, Valentine's Day, The Ides of March. Can anyone hold out until Palm Sunday?

January is a time of new beginnings, promising many more holidays to come, but like the slowly fading decorations on our front doors, it contains a lingering echo of the month and year just past. It's good to remember that this month is named after the old two - headed, two - faced Roman god, Janus, who possessed knowledge of the future and wisdom of the past. Conveniently, he could see forward into the New Year and backward into the Old. It was customary to place his image, maybe a small statue or amulet, at the front entrance of every home where he could look outward at the passersby as well as inward toward the home dwellers.

So, indulge in a few contemplative hours this month, gazing forward and glancing back. When you take that wreath down and put those cards away, think of the words of Malcolm S. Forbes, think of your friends, think of your neighbors:

"I hate these days immediately following the holidays. Emptying the house of Christmas trees, decorations and children is like emptying a home of warmth. But at least there’s the pile of Christmas cards to be looked through again before you do whatever you do when done with them. They serve as a cheerful handshake during the uncheerful letdown after Christmas. Don't stop sending them. Christmas cards are worth all the bother. In fact, the bother’s a good part of the pleasure."
--Malcolm S. Forbes (1967)
Christmas Cards In My Kitchen

Next post will be on Thursday, January 14th, 2010!
Between now and then, be sure to read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts on

(British Holiday Recipes:
Christmas Cake,
Figgy Pudding,
Mince Pies;
& More!)


  1. Whoa that's a strange comment.
    I looked over my Christmas cards today too!

  2. Have just joined fuelmyblog and saw your blog listed there. Loved the read. As for the Christmas decorations, as soon as the New Year arrives I'm ready to take them down.

    A happy 2010 to you.


  3. Mike, thanks for reading! Yes, you're right, it's time to de-clutter!

    Thanks Cate for inspiring me to face the task!