Celebrate the Year That Is Ending

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Although this post is about the end of 2014 and we haven’t even gotten to Dec. 25, I believe it is a good idea to start thinking about how you will approach the end of what may have been a very difficult year.

This is particularly important for me since my husband died this past February. Looked at in one way, it is a year that can seem terribly depressing. Looked at in another way, there is much for which I am grateful and want to celebrate.

Here are some ideas to help you highlight what is most important to remember from 2014.

Use Calendars to Mark Occasions for Release and Celebration

I bet that if you went to your appointment calendar and looked at each month, you’d discover you’ve climbed more mountains and gone through more valleys than you remember. Of course, you chose some of those journeys. But others were imposed upon you.

Look closely, however, and the pages of your calendar may reveal something else. Buried among the easily forgotten daily trivia are special events, both marvelous and miserable, that gave their unique signature to the year that is ending. Also, throughout the months, you can see evidence of love you shared with friends and relatives, conflicts and the resolution of some of those conflicts, an important project you started or completed, newly acquired skills and the application of old skills, gifts you gave or received, challenges, loses, victories.

Say Good-bye to the Passing Year

I have been told that if you live in Italy, at the end of the year you open your window and throw out your calendars, old dishes, or anything else that represents something you no longer need. (If it’s not true, it ought to be.) In fact, no matter where you live, you, too, may want to do something similar. Of course, some of the difficult people you’ve had to deal with may object to being thrown out a second-story window.

Nevertheless, there are a number of ways you can release the past, either in your imagination or in real life, from flushing it down the toilet to putting it in the trash to sending it up in a balloon. In Healing Relationships is an Inside Job I have an exercise on letting go of regrets that gives a number of examples of how to release the past.

Create Rituals of Gratitude

Now let’s turn to the things you want to remember about the year that is ending. Here you essentially do the opposite of excising regret and bad memories. You create a personal ritual or ceremony to reinforce positive memories.

Whether what you choose to do is playful or solemn, it should contain elements that are especially meaningful to you. By choosing to include strengths and highlights from your past, you connect with who you have been. By creating your own ritual, you define who you are today. By planning a ritual for welcoming the future, you help determine the kind of person you want to become.

Create a special place of celebration and honor for the past year.

On the wall, refrigerator, piano, or some other place easily seen, put photos of special people who were part of a special event or of scenes of a special place during the past year. If you make this an ongoing exhibit, each year you can have a changing-of-the-photos ritual in which you bring forward those that represent experiences well worth remembering. Don’t worry if you don’t have a current picture of a person you want to highlight, an old one will do.

Have a tell-about-the-best night.

Invite friends and family to a celebration of what was really good about 2014. Everyone can bring something representing an event they want to specially remember. In setting up parameters for the evening, be sure to recognize the potential for celebration in the death of friends and relatives of the participants. What a nice opportunity to experience once again the funny stories and accomplishments of these special people. However, be sure to make a rule that there will be no bitching, no complaining, and no dredging up of the worst of that year. Allowing such ideas to intrude into this celebration can make the event a real bummer.

Don’t let the year end without a celebration of what was important to remember.

There are many ways you can celebrate the ending of a year with personal, simple rituals. The important thing is that you shouldn’t let one year slide into the next. Take the time to create a ritual that can end this year so that you’re ready — with enthusiasm, hope, and courage — for what lies ahead in the next year.

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