Most of the blogs I've read in the past couple of days pretty much have the same theme - out with the old and in with the new. Some people have made resolutions. Some picked a word to carry with them throughout the coming year. Some even picked a color, which I tried to do, but when I closed my eyes I couldn't quite see a color that spoke to me. It's the same with the word thing. I think I've gotten close, but can't zero in on an exact word or words.
When my father was alive, the end of the year meant getting his financial papers together so my sister could do his taxes. He would spend days at his desk with bank statements, credit card receipts and 1099's spread out on the three tables that constituted his work space. Then after everything was in order, he'd set about making new folders. He started a new check book register, emptied out his tin box of old checks to make room for new. He was very methodical. It drove me a bit bonkers, because I could never quite see the order in the middle of the chaos. But he could and that's all that mattered.
In case you're wondering. No. That is not my style. Neither is the way Sweetie has taken his new appointment book and color coded birthdays, anniversaries and appointments. I'm doing good to remember a certain date, please don't ask me to remember what lavender highlighting means, or blue, or yellow. Sweetie's desk looks nothing like my father's. There are probably twice as many cubbies - a space for everything and everything in it's space. But I dare say, that even though Sweetie has a filing system that could rival the Library of Congress, it's not always that easy for him to find what he's looking for.
My style, if you can call it that, is to take a perfectly clean flat surface and put a piece of paper on it. Then another, then another. Like making vegetable soup, I often add whatever is around - an address book, a calendar, an appointment card, junk mail and bills to be paid. Right now, the table next to me is about 3 inches deep in detritus - important, I'm sure, but clutter just the same. It's no wonder I can't find anything. And a miracle that Sweetie hasn't come by with a trash can and simply swept it all away.
My point is, though I've traveled a long and winding road to get there, last night I decided to start a new new year's tradition. At 9pm I opened the refrigerator door and said, I'm not carrying this mess into the new year. I rolled up my sleeves and started clearing out food products that should have been thrown away a long time ago. I didn't even open the carton of cottage cheese with an October sell by date. When I was looking for a place to put some pint-sized Swiss Colony sausages and cheeses we got for Christmas, all I had to do was throw away last year's supply. It gross to think I've had things in the fridge for a whole year, but really, I'm sure there are way more preservatives in those tiny packages than there is actual animal product. I dare say, had the world actually ended in December, people who came after us might have appreciated a sausage or cheese snack.
I made some pretty good slam dunks from across the kitchen. Frost bitten chocolate ice cream, smashed hot dog buns, shriveled baby carrots, a fuzzy cucumber. The air seemed to sing as each food group made its way to the garbage can. And here's what I discovered. Well, it's not actually a discovery, I'm sure I learned this sometime in my past. There is a great feeling of accomplishment as one clears out the old and makes way for the new.
Like new financial statements, appointment books, blank journal pages and years containing 365 days of fresh starts, there's something to be said for a clean slate. Like the light that radiated off the sparkling glass shelves when I opened the fridge this morning, 2013 twinkles with possibility.
And who knows, maybe I'll carry that clean and toss routine into the other rooms of the house. Not likely, but that's what makes possibility so exciting.
Wishing you a clean blackboard, and a new box of colored chalk.