There’s a song I sing in our house. It’s a jaunty little tune that I made up when the kids were small to try to make cleaning up a fun thing. It never really worked but it did keep me from going insane while the boys complained about the slave labour I was subjecting them to. It’s very upbeat and goes like this… “It’s pack up time, it’s pack up time, let’s put those toys aw-a-ay”. I still sing it, and now they just roll their eyes at me and tell me they’ll clean if I will just stop singing. Why am I bringing this up here? Well, because the end of the year is coming and it’s pack up time! I have a tradition each year on the day after Christmas (Boxing Day). I call it “packing up the year”.
As I go through the house gathering wrapping paper, setting aside the toys that we’ve somehow already managed to break and taking the ornaments off the tree, I also pull down all the accomplishments, blessings, challenges and disappointments that this year has held. I sit down in precious moments of quiet and take a good look at each and every one.
This year, I will hold in my hands with a sense of joy and satisfaction our many wins as a family. I’ll marvel at how our sons have grown both in stature and in character. I’ll celebrate the fact that my husband has loved me devotedly for 15 years. I’ll enjoy the way that I have started writing (instead of just wishing I had). I’ll love the laughter and silliness of our home and even the way that our youngest discovered bottom humour. I’ll hold each of these things and be thankful that 2013 brought them my way. I’ll sit and smile and replay them in my mind before I gently wrap them up and tuck them away for a time when I’m older and small feet have grown to go wandering.
Next to come down are all of the challenges. Those things that once looked insurmountable but now make me want to whistle, “I am woman”. I’ll look at the way I spoke up for things I believe in, the business my husband branched into and the 25kg that I lost to get into my healthy weight range and I’ll laugh a little. Before I pack these challenges away I’ll say to them; “you looked scarier from a distance.” I’ll be thankful for what each of them has taught me. Because of all these challenges, I will go into 2014 knowing that nothing is impossible.
Finally, I’ll go looking for the things we’d all prefer to hide at the back of the tree. The sad, old, falling apart ornaments of failure, disappointment and grief. The ones that we would like to forget about but that we really need to deal with. I don’t like looking at these but I hold onto them for a minute and ask myself “restore or salvage?” If the answer is restore (for instance in the case of a difficult family relationship) then I set it to one side and make plans to repair it. If the answer is salvage, then I take whatever lessons I can from the situation and make peace with the loss and brokenness, then I put it down and move on leaving it firmly in the past.
That’s how I pack up the year. I do it to cultivate a habit of thankfulness, to celebrate life’s victories and to cement its lessons. It’s a time to make peace with the past and room for the future. What about you? What joys will you hold and caress and store safely for quieter days? What things will you polish with a small amount of pride? What do you plan to restore or salvage? How will you pack up the year?