Monday, November 21, 2016


By Mary Kennedy                        
Hard to believe, but 2017 is almost upon us. A reporter pal asked me for some thoughts on the importance of traditions, of welcoming the new year (and marking the passing year) in some way. Many people have religious traditions, of course,  but we were thinking of a special, non-sectarian way of honoring the year ahead of us. Something inclusive, that everyone could participate in (or not.)
Here are a few ideas that I've shared with my clients.
1. This one is based on "the butterfly effect," the notion that small changes can lead to big effects. The idea was originally used for weather prediction but has acquired a broader meaning.
I like to ask my clients: "What one thing will you do differently in 2017?" The answers are sometimes touching, profound, amusing, fun and highly personal. Almost everyone has one thing they would like to do differently and of course, they ask me the same question!
2. Share something home-made and creative with a group of friends. When I lived down south, a group of us would meet during the "slow" week after Christmas to talk about the past year. And we each would bring a craft project that had a story behind it. People brought home-made quilts...
 A painting...
a piece of beadwork that had some special significance.
Or a piece of hand-made jewelry.
Each piece had a story behind it.  Since I'm totally not artistic, I usually brought a photograph that had some special meaning to me. 
One December, it was a beloved cat who had passed away during the year. This is Lucky, a 17 year old cat who I rescued as a kitten--she was eating paper (!) in a vacant lot in a rough neighborhood. I was on my way to a job interview, stopped in the middle of the street, and dashed over to save her. (and yes, I bagged the job interview!). She was skinny and covered with fleas, but as you can see, she turned into a lovely cat and was the light of my life for many years.
3. Children enjoy playing, "Make a wish." You simply go around the table and each child makes a wish for the new year. The answers will surprise you. Children didn't focus on gifts or shiny new toys, they wish for things that would benefit their family, their school, or the larger community. I was happy to see that they were unselfish and thinking of others.
You might want to try some of these traditions with your own friends and family. Or maybe you have some traditions you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them and I know my readers would, too!
Mary Kennedy

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