The Practice of Remembering a Year




hattie in snow


I LOVE the first week of January.

Very rarely do you get such a strong overlap of everything ending and at the same time, beginning. It’s captured in that moment of Midnight on New Years Eve. Then the week that follows is filled with putting away ALL those decorations and presents (and definitely turning off all the Christmas music) while the paper and pen is out to fill the blank page of the year to come.

The Calvin and Hobbes comic above is one of my favorites because of just that. It’s the last one that the brilliant cartoonist, Bill Watterson, ever did for the Calvin and Hobbes series. But it gives you the sense that at this ending, everything is just beginning. The real adventure for both Calvin and Hobbes will continue on.


Betony and I have a tradition that we’ve done, I believe, as long as we’ve been a married couple. (So, ten some years?) Before we jump into the planning and dreams of the next year, we spend time remembering the previous one.

We really take our time with it. In year’s past we did this practice right at midnight on New Years Eve. After having kids it’s now usually on the drive home from visiting family. Regardless, we give ourselves an hour or two to really dig in.

We start in January and begin asking questions,

“Ok, where were we last year on New Years? What were we doing? What special events were happening that January? Who were we hanging out with? What happened?”

This year we used Instagram as our crutch to jog our memories (in other years we’ve pulled out planners). We moved to February then all the way to December. We recalled our Iceland trip, the concerts and tours, starting new jobs, special meals, our small group times, when Hattie hurt her leg, Betony finishing the library mural, the birth of baby Bea… It was SO good to remember this intensely special time.

We look forward to doing this every year. Often, in remembering, the most cherished moments of the year are brought to mind, dusted off, and enrich our understanding of just how sweet life really is. The stepping back and recalling the past reminds us of just how blessed we are. It helps us feel centered in who we are and what we’re doing as a family.

And when the hard times are remembered, we’re surprised by how much those difficult seasons have shaped us or led us to better places. That can be seen when it’s hindsight much more easily.

So allow me to suggest this practice to you: Take time to remember you year. Really give yourself time to do it. Recall the good and the bad and let this remembering enrich and center you, teach you, and remind you of how sweet life can be. Let it all shape you as you take on the magical world to come.

Tim Coons
Giants & Pilgrims

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