For many people, the transition from one year to the next is a really big deal. They celebrate the holiday with New Year's parties, dropped balls in Times Square, black-eyed peas, a day off from work, and endless resolutions to make a fresh start in the coming months. Lots of folks find January 1st to be the perfect time to reflect on the past and move forward with purpose.
For me, however, New Year's Day never really feels that significant. We're still saddled with all the problems of the previous year. The weather is still gray and we're still buried under mountains of snow and ice. We wear the same heavy sweaters and breathe the same dry, stale, recycled indoor air most of the time. A new number on the calendar just doesn't thrill me in the midst of winter's tedious monotony.
In my life, the "new year" really begins in March. When those first bulbs peek tentatively our of the cold ground. When we finally throw open the windows and breathe in the warm, fresh air. When I leave my down coat in the closet and walk outside in a t-shirt for the first time in months.
Since I've become a mother, I think I feel the relief of spring even more acutely. After months of trying to keep my boys busy inside and endless hours of arduous bundling and un-bundling them in coats, hats, boots, and mittens for even the shortest trip outside our door, just watching them run out to our backyard in short-sleeves and bare feet feels like indulgent luxury. Both Jonah and Eli were born in the spring, so maybe their entry into the world at this lovely time of year has indelibly reinforced my own feelings of this season as one of birth and life.
In the spring, every new morning brings a surprise for all of us: a new flower peeking out of our garden, birds building a nest in the backyard tree, neighbors finally emerging from their homes after so many months of seclusion. And ever on a deeper level, I'm feeling a shift to a new season of life for our little family. Eli's second birthday a few weeks ago means I'm no longer the mother of a baby, which I find simulaneously thrilling and heartbreaking. I'm noticing that the boys are growing increasingly independent; now, they'll entertain each other in the backyard for impressive chunks of time, unheard of last fall. Jonah and Eli dug in the garden with me this afternoon, and I was shocked to find them both truly helpful. Jonah will be finishing up preschool in the next couple of months, moving on to kindergarten in the fall. He stays up late on Tuesdays with me now to watch American Idol; we snuggle up on the couch and dissect every performance like buddies, so grown up is he. And all around me, the growth of the natural world reflects the budding emergence of these amazing little men. Even in the midst of the fickle Colorado springtime weather (65 one day, a foot of snow the next), the buds on the trees and the boys in my house persist in their plucky new growth. I breathe in the warm air, and thank God for spring.
Happy New Year 2010!