New Years is always somewhat underwhelming to me. The days and hours leading up to it are so full of possibility, of resolution-writing and vows to make yourself better with a fresh start, of an almost-mystic or spiritual fog that seems to blur reality a bit under a soft glow of anything can happen.
Much of it also likely has to do with the fact that I neither showered nor left the house on New Years Day, so the 48 hours of New Years felt like some kind of extended, suspended reality bringing with it the thought that I could spend the next 364 days in the same warmth of PJs and hermitude and new Sherlock episodes.
But then January 2nd rolls around, and it’s back to button-down shirts and the bustle of morning metro rides and the deeply tragic realization that 1/3 of the new season is already over, and nothing feels like it has changed at all.
I woke up today to sidewalks covered in ice from a night of snowfall and a sheer inability to make it down my block without clutching on to branches and townhouse stair rails, so I returned home to work and order a pair of snowshoes (which, I’m sure, will prove unnecessary for the entire rest of the winter). It’s thus been a day of great lethargy, sitting in the yellow glow of artificial lights and the greyness of overcast skies ghosting in through our high windows. Lots of tea, lots of Disney and Parks and Rec on Netflix with Roods (also working from home today) as a backdrop to foreign policy briefs, and lots of sitting in my own head.
So I dwell, as everyone so often has been doing as of late, on the new year. Underwhelming, yes, but now I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s like Thanksgiving, I think – a day dedicated to being thankful for the blessings in your life. New Years is the same – a day dedicated to reflecting on the past and contemplating on what the future could bring. But really, it’s just a day. A day to make things so much bigger than they are. Which is why I won’t sit here and wax poetic about how amazing 2013 was, because, well, it was. And that’s all I need to know about it.
But why spend a day emphasizing the things that we do all the time? Or at least, should do all the time. Think, reflect, be happy, want to be better.
Still, I made a list of things I want to do. It’s the same as it was last year. Obviously will lose 20 pounds (Bridget Jones), but more realistically to eat well, cook new dishes, read more, sketch more, and be more happy. And clearly I didn’t make them happen the way I envisioned, so I told myself I’d do them again this year.
But I think I’ve finally realized that it’s not the writing of the resolution that will make them happen. New Years is so deceitful that way. So why do I do it? The illusion of productivity? For the belief, fleeting as it is, that I can actually be the person I hope to be? For that one moment at 11:59pm on December 31 that holds more possibility than any other time of the year, for no reason whatsoever?
It’s weird, the things we take comfort in. It’s nice to have them, too, but it does well to remember that belief, or wanting, or hoping – they won’t make anything happen. It’s living that will, being alive and doing. Something so simple and so damn intuitive that took 22 years for me to finally understand. Silly. Insignificant. Underwhelming. (So many things are, these days).
But, I packed my old sketchpad to bring up north with me when I was home for the holidays (also when I baked up a few batches of kourabiedes, in anticipation of the new year), and signed up for yoga classes to use up some of the many Groupon deals I’ve bought over the past few months. Roods is making a pumpkin stew tonight, a recipe that neither of us have tried, but one that’s perfect for grey skies and artificial lights. I’ve actually stuck my nose in a book instead of spending my free time on Buzzfeed, started some TV shows that have been sitting in my mental queue for months, and half-assed a few sketches here and there. But a half-ass is better than no ass, and Roods and I have been doing our nightly Blogilates so I am fully committed to this notion.
And you know what else I realize? It’s not underwhelming. It’s just the little things. And those are pretty fulfilling. Those are enough.
So, I do look forward to the new year. Not the New Year, but 363 more days of little things and small comforts, of watching the first episode of Sherlock another 5 times, and of being alive.
Happy new year too you as well, reader. I hope it’s as underwhelming and lovely as you hope it’ll be.
Adapted from Amateur Cook Professional Eater
Yields 40 cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup ground almonds
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter, beating on low speed until just incorporated. Add ground almonds and beat for another 15 seconds or so, until dough is uniform throughout.
Drop dime-sized balls of dough on the cookie sheet, spaced about an inch apart. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Roll each cookie in powdered sugar until covered. Let cool completely, then roll in powdered sugar a second time. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.