Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. (It’s also my birthday. Welcome, 42!)
If you’d told me as a kid that New Year’s would ever shine more brightly than “Gift-mas” I would have thought you’d gone a little off. But today that’s exactly the case.
At this time of year, I start yearning for New Year’s Eve. Because I don’t go out on New Year’s Eve. I go in.
For years, I have spent that night in solitude. When I’m lucky there’s a fire involved. A cup of this tea. Heavyweight stationery. My favorite pen.
Because each year on New Year’s Eve, I write a letter to the future version of myself. In this inaugural edition of my Love + Books newsletter, I’m honored to share the New Year’s ritual that has been lighting me up for over a decade.
Love + Books,
? Kelly’s Annual New Year’s Writing Practice ?
- Find last year’s New Year’s letter, which you have not read since you finished writing it the year before.
- Find a comfy spot, preferably by a roaring fire, maybe with atmospheric music playing. Read through the letter once, savoring it.
- Send time-traveling arrows of love and gratitude back to the former version of you, the one who wrote this beautiful letter a year ago.
- Consider everything you now know, that you did not know then. Cry if you need to. Laugh if you need to. Digest.
- When you are ready, turn your attention toward the year to come.
- Meditate for 15 minutes, or an hour, or a day. The idea is to settle the waters of your mind, so your wisest self can emerge. (My personal record was 3 days of solitary retreat at the start of 2016. Let me tell you, that year’s letter was epic, and prophetic.)
- Begin writing a loving letter to a future version of yourself—the one you will meet a year from today.
- Start with a retrospective. The first half of my letter is usually my response to the previous year’s letter. What rings true? What highlights from the year do I want to be sure and remember? How do I make sense of what I wrote back then, given everything I now know?
- Set the course for the year to come. Over the years I’ve used this section to set intentions, to ask for blessings, to write down prayers. This was always the lengthier of the two sections. But in 2016, that all changed. As mentioned above, I had been meditating for 3 days when I wrote my letter that year. There were a lot of things I wanted, a lot of hopes and dreams floating around inside. But in meditation I’d come face to face with a reality I hadn’t noticed before.
In a nutshell, I saw that Life was in control, not me. Moreover, Life had been doing me a ton of favors for years, often in the form of unanswered prayers! So that year, I lay down my intention-setting sword. Instead of praying for things, people and events, I prayed for grace. Specifically, I prayed for the ability to become more and more comfortable with uncertainty. (The year that followed provided exactly that, in a totally unexpected form. My on-again, off-again life partner of 7 years got very sick, and I dropped everything to care for him. Crazy enough, it was one of the best years of my entire life.)
- Give yourself mad love as you close the letter, then seal it and put it away. Don’t open it until another year has passed. Do it in front of a roaring fire, with a hot cup of tea, on your favorite stationery…you know the drill. ?