In a few days, we will open up a figurative calendar that seems to be a blank slate where anything is possible. Being somewhat of an optimist, I’m looking for good things: for happy times, for good health, for milestones reached, for spiritual peace, and for Teddy to finally stop seeing guests as giant hairy spiders. I’m not looking for perfection, but I’m hoping and praying for a year with more grace, kindness, and acceptance.
John and I will usher in the New Year with two traditions. First, we will put away all the holiday trimmings, pack up the car, and head to the Coachella Valley for the month of January. The trip down to the desert on New Year’s Day is the first miracle of the new year, since there is no traffic as we cross miles and miles of high-density towns. After getting settled into our condo at a golf resort, we will get together with Bill and Veronika, our brother-in-law and his wife. Snowbirds—or I guess I should say rainbirds—they escape from the cold of central CA to their condo in the desert when the temperature drops.
After sharing a lovely dinner, we will open Christmas gifts, and that’s when the second tradition will begin: the annual calendar Bill makes us. It has twelve photos, one for each month, from Bill’s extensive collection. You never know what’s going to be on this calendar, and that is part of the fun. Usually there is a mix of meaningful shared landscapes or snapshots of John and me. One year there was a particularly egregious photo of me that I got to look at all through September, my birth month. Someday I may forgive him …
The point is that the new year has not begun for me until Bill’s calendar is in hand. Although there are a few appointments that will need to be filled in, the blank days are just that—blank, waiting for life’s events to be scheduled, lived, and recorded …
So we begin our year in the Sonoran Desert, where we have given ourselves the incredible gift of unscheduled time. We spend a lot of time out in the desert, where it feels like you can see into eternity. The clear blue of the sky is often cloudless, the winter sun shines benevolently, and the living sands fade into deep-lavender-and-magenta mountains that are sometimes snowcapped. In this place of solitude, where you can be standing next to someone yet be utterly alone, there seems to be emotional space to look inward and outward.
When we return to the condo at the end of the day, we often walk to the country club and, with those we love, raise a glass to the setting sun while our dogs lie at our feet. Peace and contentment shimmer in the air as the sun slips behind the mountains and the sky is painted with vivid strokes of purple, bright orange, and gold.
And so my wish for you in 2022 is that you will be surrounded by those who love you, that peace and contentment will be your companions, that light will abound in your life, and darkness will be confined to the night sky.