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How to Make the Most of New Year’s Day

Creator:
Published:
December 25, 2023
December 25, 2023
Looking for things to do on New Year's Day? Read this article to find out how to start the year off right.

Don’t read the last page / but I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or we’re making mistakes / I want your midnights / but I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day.

When I first heard Taylor Swift sing these words in her 2017 song, “New Year’s Day,” I knew: this song was mine.

See, I’ve never been that fond of New Year’s Eve. It’s usually cold and expensive and crowded and loud. I’m expected to stay awake and out far past my bedtime. People proclaim oversimplified versions of how great (or awful) the year was, and make promises and resolutions they aren’t prepared to keep. 

The end of the year can also come with a sense of loneliness, obligation, and even dread. The start of the new year, on the other hand, offers the same opportunities for a new beginning — with a little less pressure and a lot less fanfare.

That’s why New Year’s Day is, by far, one of my favorite days of the year. It’s never too busy of a day; most businesses are closed and people are too tired from the night before to do too much of anything. And because of that, it offers much more opportunity for gentle reflection, peace, and growth. If you’ve never thought much of New Year’s Day before, here are some key ingredients to making it something you look forward to every year, too. 

Bring intentionality to the day

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions — they come with a lot of pressure, and I think we often make them out of obligation without really being ready to commit to what the resolutions take. But the start of a new year is a reminder of a universal truth: there’s always a chance to start over. We begin anew each day, each season, each hour, and at no time is it more apparent than the beginning of the new year. When we wake up on January 1, we can intentionally take the opportunity to consider what beginning anew might look like: taking stock of what is and isn’t working in our lives, and what small changes we can make right away — not necessarily for the next year. Maybe just for today. 

This time for reflection can be as simple as spending a few moments in silence, with a cup of coffee, watching the snow fall. It might mean heading to Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, and reflecting on Mary’s example of saying “yes” and her radical openness to living a life of peace in ever-changing circumstances. Or maybe it’s making a list of what peace and a fresh perspective means to you.

However you do it, take advantage of the silence and the peace of January 1 to reflect on what you want to say “yes” to.

Make time for leisure

One of the best parts of New Year’s Day — and what might make it feel daunting — is how little there is to do from a productivity perspective. With most businesses closed, and with the day often coming amid a series of days off work for holidays, it may feel like there’s not much to do! 

But my friends, that is precisely what I love about New Year’s Day. This is a day that forces us to prioritize quiet leisure. It can be easy to fill our days — even, and perhaps especially, during the holiday season — with work and busyness. We complete to-do lists, think of a million things we “should” be doing, and all of a sudden our time for rest is over. But New Year’s Day challenges us to remember that we are not made for endless productivity, and that we deserve and need rest. 

What that leisure looks like is different for everyone, but truly embracing New Year’s Day involves doing something that has no other goal than bringing us joy. One of my favorite ways to do this is to prepare a ridiculous number of appetizers, just for me and my husband, and sit in front of the TV to watch football for hours on end. I’ve also found great joy in completing a puzzle, coloring, or reading a good book under the light of my Christmas tree. When we make time for leisure, we acknowledge that our bodies are a sacred space that requires care.

Lead with love

When we prioritize peace, take time for leisure, and consider how we can grow, we’re accomplishing the crux of what New Year’s Day offers us: an opportunity to begin anew in love. We’re showing love to our bodies and minds by caring for them. We’re loving those around us by preparing to be our best selves — not focusing on unattainable goals or checking off to-do lists, but considering our role in the world and how we can do better today. 

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come around some on New Year’s Eve, and I’ll happily relish in a countdown to midnight. But on New Year’s Day, you’ll find me blissfully choosing joy, embracing leisure, and regaling in the peace of quiet new beginnings.

Creators:
Molly Cruitt
Published:
December 25, 2023
December 25, 2023
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