By Susan Larson

Some people are excited for the New Year, celebrating with parties, countdowns to midnight, and resolutions.  Others dread the day, feeling melancholy and even loss.

In “The New Year’s Quilt” by Jennifer Chiaverini, Amy confides to her mother-in-law Sylvia that she dreads welcoming the New Year.  “Those moments of the past twelve months that I cherished so much are gone and they’ll never come again,” she says.  “To me, that’s a loss.”

Sylvia assures Amy she’s not the alone in feeling this way.

After all, what’s the most popular song on New Year’s Eve but ‘Auld Lang Syne’?  Even Robert Burns felt melancholy reflecting upon days gone by, upon friends no longer near. We can’t hold on to the past, it’s true, but we can keep the best part of the days of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in our hearts and in our memories, and we can look forward to the future with hope and resolve.

Sylvia says she has “learned to think of the New Year as a gift,” a time to make a pledge for some self-improvement in the next year, and a commitment “to make the world a better place for someone else, even if it’s only in small ways.”

The “New Year’s Reflections” quilt she made is her gift to Amy, so named because she believes reflections precede resolutions.

We’re several weeks into the New Year, but any day can be a new beginning.  Everyday offers the opportunity for reflection and resolution.   On what are you reflecting?  Do you have a resolution or goal?

Books can be a great help in guiding reflection and supporting resolution.  Here are a few titles new to Milton Public Library that fit that purpose.

“Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything” by BJ Fogg
Foggs’ guidance on how to form new habits focuses on feeling good about your successes instead of bad about your failures.  He talks about “anchor moments,” and provides “tiny exercises’ to help you meet your goals.

“Martha Stewart’s Organizing: The Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home & Routines by Martha Stewart
Stewart presents guidance and tools for creating and maintaining an orderly and organized life, tailored to your own lifestyle.  The book’s three parts are Organize Your Year, Organize Your Home, Organize Your Routine.

“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
In her memoir, Gottlieb’s recounts sessions with her own patients and sessions with her own therapist.  “The result is an incredibly open and honest look at the therapy process,” writes reviewer Jessica Jeffers.  “Gottlieb makes it clear that your therapist is not there to tell you what to do, but to help you recognize how your own patterns might be causing you unnecessary pain.”

“How to Weed Your Attic: Getting Rid of Junk without Destroying History” by Elizabeth H. Dow and Lucinda P. Cockrell
Vermont authors Dow and Cockrell say the current trend for downsizing is missing a vital element.  They guide readers in “seeing the historical significance in the belongings handed down in their families,” and in knowing what to do with those items.

“Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion” by Danya Ruttenberg
Teenaged Ruttenberg declared herself an atheist.  Today she’s a well-known Rabbi, writing books “about the messy business of trying to be a person in the world, and how spirituality can inform and transform that work.”  This memoir is her story of thinking about hard questions and coming to a religious practice.

Book Bits: New Year’s Reflections and Resolutions was first published in the January 14 edition of the Milton Independent.  It is reprinted here with permisison.