Many of us make new years resolutions. Irresistible to those of us who like an occasional “fresh start”, the tradition of new years resolutions goes back 4,000 years, all the way to ancient Babylonia. At that time, the new year occurred at the vernal equinox, the start of spring, and many Babylonians resolved to make good on their word and return borrowed farm equipment, so their neighbors could begin the new year of farming.
Making resolutions can be a powerful act. Doing so encourages us to slow down, take stock of the year, and think about what we’d like to change or create in the coming year. Before Anna was born, Michael and I started a tradition of writing our resolutions on paper and then burning them in the fireplace, a ritual we have continued to do as a family. Young children can write something they wish to take with them in the new year and something they wish to leave behind. Resolutions and wishes can be burned in a fire, or kept in journal or a wish jar. (See Wish Jar instructions, below.)
Because the new year is a time of transition, some people, especially kids, may enjoy looking back at the past year, as well as forward into the new one. After all, the Roman god Janus, who was said to rule beginnings, transitions, doorways and time, was often depicted with two faces so he could look back and forward at once.
One way to look back at the year is to make a gratitude list. What are you grateful for from the past year? Often our gratitude list includes things we’d like to carry with us or create more of in the coming year. The list can also be kept in a jar (below), or written in a journal or on a poster. Another fun idea? Start a journal or list of things you’re grateful for on New Years Day, or place gratitude notes in a jar, to be opened on New Years Eve next year.
My dear husband gave me a journal at the end of 2005. He wrote in it every week throughout the year.
My own gratitude list includes:
A family that laughs a lot
A Costa Rican adventure
A growing blog readership
The smell of clean laundry
The air after it rains
Old cities and brick signs
Hats and gloves
Hopeful new immigrants
A warm house
A new book
Books and book stores
A smile from a stranger
..to name a few things
What’s on your gratitude list?
Happy New Year!
Want to read more? Check out:
New Year’s Traditions Around the World and at Home
Honor Your Family with Fun Gratitude Crafts
Make a Wish or Gratitude Jar
Strips of paper
Jar and lid
Paint, fabric, ribbon, rickrack, letters cut from magazine pages, or other items, as desired
Screwdriver, hammer and cardboard, or box cutter, optional.
Decorate your jar. You may want to prime and paint the jar lid and tie a ribbon or fabric bow around the neck.
If you want to make a slit in the lid for papers, place the lid over a piece of cardboard and carefully cut with the box cutter or hammer a screwdriver into it, in a straight line. You can also just open the jar to insert wishes.
Put the papers into the jar and place it somewhere you see often or somewhere you can check in on or add to over time.