It’s not you; It’s me.

I’ve hesitated to write anything that feels like a Holidailies wrap-up, because I sort of fizzled out of participation this year. While I laud Richard and JeniPurr for keeping the project and the community going, I just didn’t feel very connected to it this year, which is a shame, because it’s the decade of Holidailies writings that morphed into my book.

I don’t blame anyone but myself. I’m just feeling really hermit-ish this winter. I didn’t decorate my Christmas tree until I absolutely had to, and if I weren’t having guests – beloved guests – on Sunday, I’d be itching to take everything down, even though it’s not yet Epiphany.

I wrote a short story for a fan community I belong to, which seems silly, but I use it as a playground to stretch myself – write in different voices, experiment with with different points of view, different structures. It’s a good way to learn and grow without having to spend tons of time world-building.

But none of that has to do with the new year.

2015 was a challenging year for me. It’s the first year in which I’ve had hardly any paid gigs, but it’s also the first year in which I really focused on writing, so I think, in the end, it was a good year.

I mean, I published a book.
And I bought a guitar.
And made several new friends.
And made my marriage even stronger.

So, if I’m having issues with a favorite holiday project being unsatisfying this year, it’s all on me.
And actually, I’m okay with that.

Here’s to a new year. May it be full of wonder and joy.
And just a few surprises, to keep us all on our toes.

Holidailies 2015

Begin as You Mean to Go On

Red Cups

I don’t quite remember where I heard the phrase, the advice, really, “Begin as you mean to go on,” but I think it might be a paraphrase of something from Louisa Alcott’s Little Women. In any case, I decided last year that the way one begins a new year should set the tone for the whole year.

Last year, as the calendar page turned, I was finishing a story, but it was the all-day celebration – music and laughter, friends and phone calls, that really set the tone.

This year, I rang in the New Year from Texas with the population of Newfoundland, because I was still so tired from traveling back from Mexico the night before. This morning, I woke to a sore back, but with a happy disposition, nevertheless.

I cooked and baked, shared some new recipes and some old, had friends at my table to share brunch, and played board games with some of them until late in the evening. I cuddled dogs and enjoyed the heat of my fire (though we’re now out of fire logs) and now we’re curled up in front of the television watching season 2 of Call the Midwife on Netflix (I’ve seen it all, but Fuzzy got hooked on it while we watched it with Mom over Christmas), and waiting for a quiche to finish baking for a late supper.

While we watch television, I’ll be finishing chapter one of a new story, and all-in-all, I think that’s a good way to start a year. Writing and coffee, friends and family, dogs and delicious food, laughter and fun and quiet time – all in balance. All in harmony.

What more could one want?

Holidailies 2014

Photo Credit: Alexandr Kornienko /

Half-way Out of the Dark

The writing staff from Dr. Who might consider Christmas to be the point of the year at which we’re half way out of the dark, and while I suppose it’s true from a “well, you know, the winter solstice” point of view, for me, that midpoint comes a little later – on New Year’s Eve. You know, tonight. I guess it’s because we’re flipping a calendar page and crossing off days in a new year, and hoping that – with or without specific resolutions – we’ll all be better from the new day forward.

But before there’s the day, we have to have the night. New Year’s Eve…when drunk people sing a song they don’t understand, off-key, loudly, and in public.

Well, not at my house.

We thought about having a quiet night, just the two of us, and watching movies, but the reality is that I wanted to ring in the new year with friends, so we had a quiet soiree, with two other couples, and another friend. I provided cheese, crackers, chips, salsa and beverages that came in hot, cold, alcoholic and alcohol-free. Ms. M.S. showed up with grocery bags, and proceeded to cook us a special meal to be eaten after the year had turned over, sharing her personal traditions with us.

There were black-eyed peas, for luck and collard greens for prosperity (money), and sauerkraut with chunks of tender pork just because she had grown up eating that, and, because none of us has yet learned to cook less than a metric ass-load of anything, there was enough for each of us to have some leftovers.

And so, on this cold, clear night, while the wind whispered love songs in the trees, and the birds roosted in the thickest, most sheltered branches, we talked and laughed and drank and ate. In Mexico, friends of my parents made sure to walk around the block with their empty suitcases, to ensure a year of travel, and while we didn’t do that, we did do some symbolic sweeping away of 2010, and we did toast the new year with sparkling beverages (asti for some of us, sparkling cranberry for others) and shared kisses with each other, and the dogs, and cleaned up, and then had mochas to send those driving on their way.

Fuzzy’s sick, so we sent him to bed early, but everyone else stayed til just after two, and while part of me wanted it to be one of those talk-til-dawn kinds of nights, where everyone crashes in one house, I’m glad to have the still, quiet of my own space back, and I’m looking forward to undecorating the house. I don’t usually do this on New Year’s Day, preferring to keep everything up til Epiphany, but for some reason, even though it’s the same number of days, having the holidays fall on weekends has made the time seem longer, and I’m ready for signs of Christmas to be bundled back into boxes until next year.

“Things have to end. Otherwise nothing would ever get started,” said the 11th Doctor in last week’s Christmas episode, a Dr. Who riff on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and that’s true of everything: childhood, vacations, weekends, Christmas…years, seasons, winter…everything.

2010 was not the worst year ever for me, but it was particularly challenging and held far too many disappointments. I’m hoping 2011 will be better for everyone.

And as for me, it’s four in the morning on the first day of a new year, and I’m sitting in bed typing on my laptop will my husband and our dogs sleep nearby. I’m sipping the last of the asti, and getting ready to give myself some dreamtime, and as tired as I am, I still have the warm glow of friendship surrounding me.

Because we’re half way out of the dark, and the sunlight that’s coming is bright and clean and new.

Happy New Year.