Updated: Dec 30, 2020
In my mom’s culture, at this time of year, people create scenes out of straw in communal, outdoor spaces. The scenes can be of anything but, most often, tend to represent something or someone that you didn’t like from the last year, to which you are enthusiastic to bid goodbye. They are also often elaborate. I remember one, in particular, from a visit to Ecuador when I was a kid. There were two straw people, sitting at a straw table, playing cards inside a straw hut decorated with straw furniture and there were even straw plants and wall hangings.
Then on New Year’s Eve, everyone lights their straw creations on fire. It’s a way of saying goodbye to the old year and everything that it was to make a place to welcome in the new. There’s also catharsis involved in igniting these representations of the old, the things and people to be left behind with the passing of time.
This year, I feel like I would have a lot to burn. There is a lot I’d like to be done with and I am definitely ready to turn towards a new year with the faint light of hope that has begun to grow in my heart that this year to come might be better.
That hope still feels uncertain though and so, in the interim, and in the absence of a giant bonfire, I am working on new routines and plans and multi-colored spreadsheets that are at least giving me some feeling of control. Creating a sense of control feels like the only way I’m going to make it, because right now, making it through these next few months until the Better Time arrives feels like a questionable prospect. So, I am focusing on sleeping well and eating well and scheduling in time for all of the important but non-urgent things that too often get dropped from my list.