To judge from the magazine covers, I’m not alone in suddenly going into a cleaning frenzy after New Year’s.
I love everything that goes with Christmas. We do lots of lights, wreaths on the windows outside, greens with faux sugared fruit and lights inside, a sprawling Nativity set, at least two trees (one in a safe place, and one in the living room with only the ornaments we aren’t too worried about the baby grabbing), tons of holiday baking, entertaining, travel, etc. (and by “we,” I mean I do the decorating and baking, and the hubby pays for it, keeps the kids out from under foot for part of it, and drags me off to bed at something vaguely resembling an only somewhat unreasonable hour.)
I also love the holidays being over.
I’ve had fun. So much so, in fact, that my fun meter is officially pegged. That’s it. No more. I can only take so much fun at a time. (It comes from having been a surface warfare officer; we can only take so much excitement. I hear jet pilots can party endlessly.)
Apparently, I’m not the only one to be cleaning house.
Each January, the weeks following New Year’s are the annual clean out the house, donate the stuff nobody is really using, and cocoon at home. This routine is aided by the articles in the home section of the newspaper (yes, I still get one; another Navy-induced habit) and the magazines at the check-out. “Declutter for the New Year!” “New You in 2009!” “Fresh Thinking for the New Year!”
I think part of it is that we all look back at how hard we worked to get “ready” for the holidays… and how far we still had to go when they arrived.
Every year, I say I’m going to try to spend more of Advent in a prayerful state of mind, make it to Adoration more often, pray the “O” antiphons over the last nine days of Advent (you’ve heard them; they’re the basis for “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”), etc. so as to be more spiritually rested and ready for Christmas. It usually doesn’t work, maybe because it rarely happens during the rest of the year, the quiet call to prayer drowned out by all the other things hollering to get done.
Every year, I intend to not scarf quite so many Christmas cookies. This, also, usually doesn’t happen, probably because of my munching habits the rest of the year.
Every year, I firmly resolve not to lose my temper, get spun up by family members, or spend the season stressing about what’s left on the to-do list. Ditto, ditto… rest of the year… yeah, right.
Well, we survived the holidays (just barely; see the previous post), but it wasn’t pretty at times. So, while trying to goad the children into cleaning their toy room (“I said, ‘Put the toy food in the toy refrigerator, put the toy pots in the cabinet.’ That was ten minutes ago. Everything is still on the floor, thrown all over the room. What have you been doing?!?” Their reply: “Um… I don’t know? The baby did it?” *sigh*), I decided on a few goals for the New Year.
1. Budget time. And that means schedule times for prayer and quiet. And following the schedule for prayer, rest, and sleep, regardless of how long the to-do list still is at the end of the night. Being a former Navy officer, this is hard; the usual “solution” for too much to do is to just skip a few more hours of sleep (Which is why, of course, I’m up at 2 am, again) and put off the non-critical tasks (and laundry, weeding, and homeschooling are all a lot more obviously attention-getting than needing quiet and no-kidding sit-down prayer time).
2. Budget money. As in have the budget and have it make a lot more difference in what is spent or not spent. (I have a budget… it’s just that it’s been sort of a “here’s the impossible goal, because the car will need a repair at the worst possible time and now the oldest needs braces” thing…) The fun part of the budget is the tithe list (no, we don’t quite do the strict 10%, depending on how you calculate it); that’s the only part of the budget we regularly stick to! (Although one group we give to called to give us a personal phone number in case we “needed anything” and another group sent about four thank-you’s on increasingly expensive-looking paper. I’m happy they’re happy about the donation… but I’m a little worried that they’re quite that happy about that little.)
3. Lose ten pounds. Yes, the number is low, because I know what will realistically happen, and the only year I met my goal of losing a whole lot more than that was last year. But losing 25 pounds because you had undiagnosed mono for most of the year (finally figured that one out when my oldest child came down with mono in July; I’d probably had it since the previous August, and had been miserably nauseous for more than a month after coming home from China in January, then off and on nausea through the summer (and, yes, I had been seeing many doctors, none of whom figured out I had mono until about the same time my daughter came down with it, then promptly passed it to her brother, and probably the baby, too.)) doesn’t really count as a weight loss success. More like a fortuitous accident. Yes, it worked, but I wouldn’t recommend getting mono as a dieting technique. As my husband, the weapons system evaluator would say, “Effective, not suitable.”
4. Avoid having or being a house guest at the holidays. Period.
5. Blog more regularly. Be more politically active. Do more pro-life work.
I would’ve added “avoid major illnesses or hospitalizations,” but I already blew that one. I have four new little scars, one on each limb, from lipoma removals on Wednesday (with twilight anesthesia; wonderful nap, interrupted by a loud yelp each time they injected the numbing agent at a new spot). (Conversation eight years ago, when I had my first lipomas removed. Me: “So I’m going to keep getting these itchy, annoying fat lumps popping up every so often?” Doctor: “Not lumps (people think of cancer), lipomas.” Me: “Whatever. So, I’m prone to lumps?”) My youngest (who I’m going to have to stop calling “the baby”, because she’s almost two) keeps kicking or sitting on or elbowing the sore spots.
Worse, I’m supposed to be “taking it easy” for a bit while they heal, so my hand-pulled noodles homestudy course is on hold after only two batches. (More on the noodles in a later post! Yes, they are better than the dried noodles or even the fresh noodles in the refrigerated section at the Chinese groceries. No, I don’t look like the guys in all the utube videos who make it look so neat and easy. But my local noodle expert adores them. “Noo? Noo! Eat, pleez? Noo?!” Almost-two-year-olds are always a little fuzzy on, “Wait, dumpling, they have to cook!”)
Anyways, I hope you’re inspired to find a few workable New Year resolutions of your own, or at least to clean out some closets to fill some bags for the local charity thrift store.
And, maybe since I’ve told all of y’all now, I’ll have to stick to them this time! 😉