When I was a school-age child my mother used to make most of my clothes. She was actually quite good at sewing and I had a variety of mostly dresses (that’s what girls wore then) to wear to school for the variety of seasons. She also made fancy dresses and I remember one particular year when she made matching Easter dresses for my sister and me – yellow with a white pinafore. When my sister broke her arm (my fault but that’s another story!) just a week before Easter Sunday, she modified the dress with snaps so she could wear it. There’s a picture of us somewhere in a box in our attic of that event.
Quite naturally, the clothes that I most loved and liked to wear were the ones that were store bought new. The homemade ones were not quite as good in my mind. They were traditional and not the latest thing that other kids were wearing. It was “new” already made clothes and right off the rack that I coveted.
There is something about things that are new, freshly packaged, all presented nicely. That’s true about our life, too! The new holds possibility and therefore, hope. Hope that life will continue to evolve in the ways we most value, that things will change, for the better. That’s the underlying cause of the celebration of the beginning of a new year. We can declare that the old is finished (and it is, of course) and the new can be . … (you fill in the blank). And some of us make resolutions for the New Year as way of expressing our hopes for change.
I think that one of the things that I like about travel is the newness. Travel keeps me from becoming complacent about life – just going along with the flow. It wakes me up to the environment, the culture, the peoples, and encourages me to attend to what is happening around me and engage it.
In his play, “The Cocktail Party”, T. S. Eliot tells us “every moment is a fresh beginning”. The new is actually available constantly. We simply have to attend and want to see it and engage the newness. Perhaps that’s why, in the middle of celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, I find beginning a New Year not so different from beginning a new day. It takes intention and inner work (assisted by the choices we make) to engage the new that is already happening all around us. Traveling stimulates that in me.
Eventually, in retrospect, I realized that the dresses my mother made for me were far better than the ones I got at J. C. Penny’s or Sears. The fabrics and design were far better. And the love that was sewed into them was priceless. Today, I have one sweater (pink mohair, no less!) that she made for me and I treasure it. And I confess to liking old things, mostly because of the relationships they represent or the history and beauty contained in them.
This all reminds me of a childhood rhyme that we used to sing in Girl Scouts: “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” That sounds like a good resolution for a New Year. I hope you will join me – on the Way!