Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

How Do You End the Year?

Endings and beginnings. Our calendar end and beginning of the year may be an artificial construct and not universal, but for me it still signifies something wondrous. A time to reflect on and release the year ending, and a time to anticipate the fresh start of a new year.

Most years, I spend the final days of the year at my forest cabin in the mountains, listening to the creek, enjoying a crackling fire, perhaps graced with quiet snow. Without phone or internet there, it gives me a chance to spend time in contemplation without distraction.

On New Year’s Eve, I sit in front of the fire with paper and pen. I write a letter to the year ending. I note memorable happenings, and reflect on lessons offered and perhaps learned. I consider what things I would like to leave behind and ask the year to take these things with it as it departs. For example, last year I asked to be relieved of guilt and judgment. And most of all, I thank the year for its blessings which of course include everything, every day, every breath.

Then I write a second letter to the new year, welcoming it with warm hospitality and acceptance of whatever it brings. I don’t make resolutions or set goals. I used to receive a word of the year, but I haven’t done that in a long time. (My last word of the year was “wait,” so I guess I still am.) I do ask for gifts, like patience, forgiveness, wisdom, compassion. And while there might be things I look forward to, I try not to burden the new year with expectations. Mostly, I just want the new year to know that I’m happy to meet it.

After a time of quiet with both letters, I offer them to the fire, releasing the ending year from my life with gratitude and sending my prayers for the new year in the sacred smoke.

It’s a ritual that brings me peace, with a dash of amazement that another year has passed, and a pinch of excitement that a new year is about to begin.

What about you? How do you end the year and begin the new one? Do you have any family or friend traditions, or personal rituals? (A glass of champagne at midnight definitely counts!)

Wishing everyone the very best for 2023!

8 thoughts on “How Do You End the Year?”

  1. I don’t have a particular ritual, though I can appreciate the power of the letters and fire routine that you employ.

    My approach is strictly practical. I think of this as a time to literally clear out the old to make room for the new. All receipts and paperwork for the old year are packed away. The budget software gets a revised set of figures to help me keep our spending in check.

    Betty and I discuss vacation plans, any household projects that are important, and recommit ourselves to each other for the new year.

    With those tasks accomplished, I just have to remember to write 2023 on any new checks.

    1. Practical is good too! I have a practical to do list as well. Doing some of it today. Yes, remembering to write the new year on the checks — we call all relate. And I love what you said about you and Betty recommitting to each other for another year. That was very sweet. Practical can be romantic too!

  2. The end of the year is a time of reflection & respite. Snow means slow around here. We go hard spring, summer & fall & I relish the quiet time that settles in after the holiday. That’s when I do the best reflection & planning, reading, joe jobs. I do a short summary of the year in a Christmas letter to friends & family pre-Christmas; then it’s prepare the 2023 daytimer (yes, I still use a hardcopy) with birthdays, upcoming appointments, dates to remember, plans, etc. I do select a word of the year; last year was “sustain” in an attempt to strengthen and support my own physical and mental response to what presents itself. I want to live life proactively. I did some coasting during the pandemic and it’s time to move forward. Happy New Year to you, Galen.

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Mona. Don’t you love getting your new daytimer ready for the new year? I still use a hardcopy calendar. I love choosing my calendar for the year and, like you, getting important dates filled in. Hope your year got off to a good start today.

  3. I love your end and begin of the years. It sounds peaceful and it sounds like a great way to get in touch with yourself on a deep level.
    A new year means cleaning and organizing and starting the year fresh and as simple as possible. It is a time to list the things I would like to accomplish during the year including things like reading, travel, enjoy hobbies, etc.
    Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks RCS. I had a great weekend at the cabin and enjoyed my letter ritual. Like you, I’m also cleaning and starting the year fresh, literally and figuratively. I like your list! It’s good to remind ourselves to do the things we enjoy, not just chores. Happy New Year!

  4. What a lovely practice, Galen. I’m going to try this at the end of this year.
    I’m so happy to be connected with you again and look forward to reading your blog and garnering wisdom from it! ♥

    1. Hey Corinne, I’m happy too that we reconnected! Thanks for commenting, and I’ll be keeping up with your blog too.

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