The year comes to its tipping point: this week there are resolutions to make and thank-you letters to write and a fresh new expanse of days to anticipate with hope.
Even though Mark Twain said that resolutions were "humbug," and that "Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.*"
Even though thank-you letters are quaint.
And even though the coming random number of days are just as full of potential as the previous ones were.
Happy New Year.
It's like the pull of an annual migration, or whatever impulse that makes bears and porcupines wake up in the spring. Midwinter and its myriad festivals of light and sugar-cookies pass and I look around with a sense of urgency like a vulgar itch. It's time to rearrange the furniture.
My mom also did this, which is probably why I do. She was not a terribly physical creature, but she could pop a folded washcloth under the corner of a full china cabinet and hip-check that bad boy across the room in a jiffy.
Like her, I find myself standing in the midst of disorder, asking the furniture itself where it wants to be for the next twelve months. "Whaddya think, rug?"
Mr. Linton was caught up into the maelstrom of cleaning and hip-checking this year. Held indoors by the damp chill of a Florida cold-front, he did not offer to answer in the voice of the rug about where to go. He did sidle off to the porch with the cell-phone a time or two, but he cheerfully lent a hand at my continual requests: "Will you shake this rug over the porch rail? Will you help me move this washing-machine? Will you carry this back to the car?"
Ideally, my primal impulse to redecorate results in a refreshed space. It's a blitzklieg of cleaning. And while changing things up will result in the odd stubbed toe, it also makes home seem strangely roomy and interesting.
Plus, the inexpensive IKEA rug I picked up to cover more square footage of the plywood floor is –– to the inch –– the exact same inexpensive IKEA rug I have had for four years. Whoops. (A foolish consistency would be the hobgoblin of little minds, just ask Ralph Waldo Emerson, but this? This consistency shows unflappable design taste, baby.)
But the drive is wearing off. I think the impulse that kept me hustling around the house today is almost the opposite of a resolution: I make no promises for the coming year. The work is done, aside from returning that rug and a bit more cleaning. In the coming weeks, I'll be utterly guilt-free as I think less and less about the process. And by May, I too will have forgotten humbug promises and the shiny sense of a whole new year full of potential and improvement.