It has been common practice among people who want to turn over a new leaf to make a list of things that are intended to be accomplished at the dawn of every year. A lot of people take the new year as an opportunity to start anew and to forget every dumb thing that was done in the past. If only life is truly as simple as a magic slate then there will be less foul-ups, mess ups, depressions and nervous and mental breakdown. I am not an exemption to this favored practice. The moment I found out what the word “resolution” meant, I vowed to write 10 resolutions on New Year’s Eve. After years of doing this (I think I started in high school) I realized that at the end of each year, whenever I brought out the list to check if I accomplished anything, I always end up either humiliated or disappointed with myself because I end up not doing a thing on my list. To help me with this, I even availed of the Belle Du Jour planner which has a suggested list of things that a single thirty-something bella should do. But no matter how attractive the planner is, plunging in and actually seizing the day has ceased to become my mantra since I ended up seizing the wrong day back in college. (Saving this for a whole different entry) As an alternative to a New Year’s resolution, I have also tried to write a bucket list; a list of things that I plan to do before I die and each year that passes, I feel that I am farther and farther away from accomplishing whatever is in that list. It gets a bit disappointing at the beginning but then the disappointment eventually turns into indifference after so many years.
Last year was my very first new year without my family. It was a very weird experience and I have to admit that in my attempt to somehow make myself feel that I belong, I went from house to house bringing gifts to my friends’ families on New Year’s Eve. I did feel better. Sharing and giving especially during the holidays never fail to pick me up. It gives me this warm glow whenever I am welcomed into another family’s home. The glow however was fleeting. I could not help but feel a bit wistful when I saw them in their own happy chaos: their kitchen and their wonderful combinations of sounds and smells, piping hot dishes, happy screams of delight from children running around the house, people in their best clothes, laughter from somewhere outside accompanied by a few firecrackers going off down the street. Everything made a happy cacophony yet in the deepest pit of my heart, I felt silent. I remember that it was neither a sad silence nor the feeling of being lonely. I think the most appropriate way to describe how I felt that day was I felt lost; like somehow I did not belong among all the merriment. I received about 5 invitations from 5 families to stay for their mini parties, but I have a family waiting at home for me. We may not be complete, we may be very small but we were still a family. I went home with peace in my heart, content in knowing that the people I consider friends are among those who consider me a family as well.
This year was better. I neither felt sad, lonely nor lost. New Year was just an ordinary day for me this year. I just went through the motions of preparing a simple dinner, buying 13 round fruits for prosperity, hanging grapes on door frames, putting coins on the stairs and windows in keeping with age-old traditions. As I was going through the house doing all these, I was praying for a lot of things. I prayed for my family who is in the US. I prayed that they will always be happy and healthy. I prayed for financial stability and peace of mind. I prayed for lasting happiness and security. I prayed for mommy and asked God if He can still give us a few more years with her. I know she is already doing great at 90 but a few more years will be greatly appreciated. I prayed for yaya and ate Acay. I prayed to God that He may grant them long healthy and unencumbered lives. I prayed for the means to be able to provide for them in their old age. They do not earn much with what they do but they do all their chores with their whole hearts. We have also grown to love our two angels and Yaya has even been a second mother to me. I prayed for my sister, I prayed that she and her new husband’s marriage may be blissfully blessed. I pray that God will strengthen their union in the coming years. Love is such a blessing and some people chase after the elusive happy ever after for years to no avail. They are lucky to have found each other.
At 10 minutes to midnight, the neighbors started to light up the firecrackers and as always, all we did was stand by and watch as the pyrotechnic display lit up the sky and painted it with a thousand beautiful, albeit fleeting colors. Even if I was alone, I felt happy with all the sounds and colors around me. We had a guest on New Year’s eve…well he’s not so much a guest really but more like a borrowed pet. Wrinkles stayed for the holidays since my sister and her new husband chose to spend New Year’s in the quiet solace of Tagaytay. When it started getting noisy, I heard a lot of whimpering from outside, so to be a nice host, I went outside and joined Wrinkles in watching the fireworks. Her whimpering stopped as soon as I scratched her head. She however tried to wedge her whole big sharpei-lab head in my butt as if attempting to muffle the noise. She would hide behind me at some point as if she has a smaller frame than me. Seeing that she was unsuccessful in her attempt to hide from the noise, I talked to her to calm her down. I know she did not understand what was going on. It was her first New Year in Manila and I bet the celebrations in the US are so much quieter than ours, so I took the time to explain to her what’s going on. After talking to her, she seemed to have calmed down and the noise started to fade away into the night, too. Though I did not spend that moment with a person, I still felt a sense of calm knowing I was able to help another being. After all it’s New Year’s Eve, nobody should spend it alone, not even if you’re a dog.
With that kind of joy and peace in my heart as the year 2011 came to a close, I knew that this new year will be heaps better that the last one. I only have to choose. I can choose to wallow in sadness and loneliness and keep on wondering why nobody seems to want me. I can keep on wondering why I feel like I am going nowhere for most days of the year. But on the other hand, I can stop feeling pitiful about my plight and focus instead on counting the blessings that the Lord has given me. The Lord has been really good to me and He has never ever left my side. He is my only strength and anchor when things start to turn unfavorably. So for this year, instead of making resolutions and promises that I know I won’t be able to keep, I will start counting blessings. I have 366 days this year which means I have 366 chances to be a blessing to other people too. This is my chance to give back a bit of all the good things that I have failed to thank the Lord for, back in 2011. Today Lord, I start the year by saying Thank You, I will start the year by reminding myself to be grateful for everything that you have given me. Today Lord, I thank You for a new year, a new chance to make other people’s lives more meaningful and happier. Thank You, Lord for using me according to Your will. Thank You Lord for keeping my family safe amidst all the New Year’s revelry accidents that we saw on the news earlier today. May my family’s celebration in the US be as peaceful and/or even happier, Amen.