Yesterday on New Year’s Eve my family and I had a little end-of-year ceremony at the back of our woodland croft. My husband and son are not as fond of ceremony and ritual as I am, so I usually go gently and only pick a few occasions each year. All of us chose one thing to let go and send down a little stream. Today is part two of our old year/near year ceremony and I was looking for something that felt right for us. Not too formal, not too overwhelming. Something the ritual-reluctant can embrace in relative comfort. The challenge for me was that I’ve actually never been fond of the days between Christmas and New Year, mainly because I don’t like endings. As a child, my parents observed I never closed doors behind me, and today I wondered if those two things are related.

I have always been fond of collecting experiences; every year is a collection of those. When looking for an image of what old years mean to me my mother’s button box came to mind (she was a dressmaker, so we were truly button-rich) – all sorts of colours, shapes, and sizes, and stories to go with them. Not all beautiful, or useful even, some just practical, others ugly, some broken and worn, but many of them beautiful and special and some dazzling in their beauty.

The New Year on the other hand is a blank page of white paper in my mind. Pristine and untouched this purity might be comforting to some. To me, it is daunting and vast and too immaculate for comfort. Or to stick with the reference frame of my childhood, it’s like a big piece of beautiful and sometimes expensive fabric my mother used to turn into beautiful dresses. I remember watching her as she created patterns and pinned them to the fabric, and then she made the first cut. I was always in awe seeing her doing this with real confidence.

I could imagine the dresses she made, the joy of her customers when getting a first glimpse and trying them on during fittings, and their outings later on. I much preferred imagining their future rather than learning to make them. And it is the same with New Year. I usually look forward to what the future might bring, but I much prefer the slightly vague notion of the future to the first day of a new year. There is no hiding from it – to me, beginnings can be as hard as endings. I am prone to researching and thinking and considering, and planning, and often to rethinking, reconsidering and replanning. New year’s resolutions are a strange concept of trying to commit to something I really have not researched or planned well enough yet.

So on the first day of January, surrounded by others’ resolutions and firm plans, I am uncomfortably quiet. A bit like awkwardly lingering on the edge of a gathering where I don’t know people or that sense of disorientation in a new place or situation where I have not yet got the lie of the land. I’ve learned over the years that to fully embrace something I need to ‘edge towards it’, try it on, taste it, get my head around it, and become familiar. Slow starts suit me, feeling my way into what might be, rather than drawing up lists and spreadsheets quite yet. Of course sometimes in life, we don’t have the luxury to pick our pace, I have learned that. And yet with a new year and 365 days ahead there is seldom the need to jump in head first if it doesn’t feel right.

So with that in mind, and in my heart, I will sit with that new year thing for a bit longer, allowing myself to gently ease into it. For today’s ceremony I chose to take my family up the hill on our croft and aim for something that’s not about grand plans and firm commitments, but about letting our gaze wander across the hills and the sea, taking in all four directions, a 360-degree view of possibilities and hopes, wishes and dreams and then we will come down to the rest of the day and the rest of the year and take it one day and step at a time to see what will emerge. For some things, we will need dedication and courage, and make plans, for others we will need to be open to opportunities.