A Very Happy New Year to you all! Thank you so much for your lovely wishes. Although Stacy will not approve (as today is only the 11th day of Christmas), we took down our Christmas decorations yesterday, except for the ones in the Dafter’s room. It’s nice to have a bit more space and light, and to feel this is indeed the start of a fresh new year.
January takes its name from the Roman god Janus, who has two faces. This is because January is a month for looking both backwards and forwards. This year I have been doing even more looking backwards than I usually do. 2013 was a year of major outwards change for our family (though 2011, when the Dafter fell ill with ME/CFS, was the year of the most profound change in about a decade).
Every year when we put our Christmas decorations away, we each make a list of “Christmas wishes” for the year to come. We tuck these on top of one of the boxes and there they stay until the following December 1st, when we rediscover them. It’s always interesting to look back and see which wishes came true. Some always do! And of course you can wish for anything… This year, we were amazed at how very many of them had come true! (Give or take a few meeting-celebrities wishes and the like.)
This started me reflecting on the gifts I’ve been given this past year, and in particular on what I’ve learned. Below (for anyone who’s read this far!) is my list of Things Learned in 2013, but first, let’s have a picture of Tilly:
Things I learned in 2013:
- I’ve learned that I can often be braver than I think. I can drive to Ikea, for example!
- I’ve learned that although Glasgow is a large industrial city, it has a surprising amount of green space. The Dafter says she is enjoying trees and nature here in a way she never did in Aberdeen. She is even willing to brave dogs in order to feel more peaceful in nature. Hooray!
- I’ve learned that it can be a very good thing to have a strip-out of possessions, as long as you have the time to do a proper sift.
- I’ve learned that it is possible, for the Dafter at least, to be very unwell and also happy at the same time. She tells me she is happier now than she was before she fell ill. She is really an amazing person and teaches me so much!
- I’ve learned, or been reminded, that healing does happen. We have had some affectionate, open, wonderful visits with Our Son this year. Anyone who knew us when he was a boy (adopted after hugely traumatic early years) will know what a miracle this is. Although the Dafter was so much looking forward to being able to go to school part-time, and that hasn’t been possible (yet), we have also seen healing taking place.
- I’ve learned that taking one day at a time, and counting your blessings, is the best way to survive a difficult time.
- I’ve learned that, in Glasgow at least, if you think there’s a donkey braying in your back garden, it’s more likely to be an urban fox.
- I’ve learned that there are a lot more invisible, house-bound people than you might imagine. In Aberdeen, the Dafter was shut away up in her room without any visitors for weeks on end (usually 4 or 5, but once 7 weeks) – and I thought it was so terrible a person could just disappear like that with hardly a trace. And then I learned of the death of a man across the street from us who had been housebound for 17 years and I never knew of his existence! Here in Glasgow, we discovered there is a wheelchair-bound man across the road, whom we didn’t realise was there.
- I’ve learned that, while places are very important, people are by far the most important thing.
- I’ve learned that the Church of Scotland is indeed A Broad Kirk.
- I’ve learned that the ways of the heart are unpredictable. As Pascal said, “Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point”: “The heart has its reasons, that Reason doesn’t know at all.” Although moving to Glasgow has been absolutely the right thing to do for our family and thus for me, when we left Aberdeen I was hit by the most dreadful grief – nearly the worst I have ever experienced. I have lived in many different places and have moved many times, but I guess I’d never really put down roots until coming to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is where I had my family, lived for 21 years, found the perfect church for me and made some lifelong friends. Leaving was like an amputation. I no longer cry every day, though!
- I’ve learned that cats are far more adaptable than you’d think. Jill was right, as long as they have the people who are important to them, they will be okay.
- I’ve learned, or been reminded yet again, that God’s timescale is not our timescale.
- I’ve learned that God’s grace can be wildly abundant. So very many blessings have flowed to us. We’ve truly had divine assistance in getting through a year of Michael commuting, selling our flat in Aberdeen, buying our house in Glasgow, finding excellent help with work on the house and garden, a good school for the Dafter, and good doctors for her here. Not to mention the good fortune of having J and her family (our downstairs neighbours in Aberdeen) move here as well!
- I’ve recently learned that if you are trying to fix a clogged-up vacuum cleaner, if you forget to turn it off first, you risk spraying the entire room with whatever was clogging it up! Good for a laugh, though.
- I’ve been reminded many times that angels are near. One particularly difficult day, there were three manifestations / mentions of angels that crossed my path. And recently a startlingly beautiful feather brooch “just happened” to come my way.
- I’ve learned that you can have a really fun party inviting lots of strangers! More on our New Year’s Open House in my next blog post.
And finally, there are two things that I already knew very well, which 2013 amply demonstrated to be eternal truths: knitting keeps me sane, and blogland can be a wonderful source of friendship and support. Thank you all so much for your encouraging and helpful comments. I wish you and your loved ones many, many blessings in 2014!