Just enough time for this…

There’s just enough time to squeeze in a quick Thank You note for 2023. You can just ‘think it through’ while sorting the washing, like an imaginary Post-it note to the world. Or a WhatsApp voice note, or a TikTok video, if that’s your thing.

Many of us have had our share of messy, complicated and difficult times this year; such is life. Some of us dealt with unwanted change, uncertainty or loss, and are still fumbling around trying to figure out how to carry on each day. 

But just for a moment, alongside all that, we can pause to focus our attention on a few small comforts that we are grateful for this year. Like watching Ryan Reynolds in ‘Welcome to Wrexham’…

Or the support and kindness of family and friends. Perhaps the nurse who held your hand at the hospital appointment, when your world changed forever. Or the work colleague who knows how to make you giggle in a dull meeting.

Maybe the loyalty of a pet, who still loves you, when it seems the rest of the world has forgotten how. Or time spent pottering in the garden with your hands in the earth, while your heart absorbed whatever slings and arrows of fortune 2023 hurled your way.

I hope that as you look back on the year, there are some highlights to cherish. Like sea swimming in Wales, while silently swearing at the ridiculously cold water… before a flask of hot chocolate warms you up on the beach.

Can you think of 3 things to say Thank You for from this year? Maybe fabulous things like falling in love with someone, starting a new job, or welcoming a rescue cat, with symphonies of contented purrs from your family and the cat!

Tiny things count, like that puppy in the park, whose tail wags like a metronome of happiness. Or standing barefoot outside my Mother-in-law’s kitchen, gazing up at a huge moon after a day of proper Manchester rain. Endless little Thank You’s line up for your attention, once you begin. 

In December I think of all the families I’ve cared for this year, in my work as a Funeral Celebrant. In each service, we say Thank You to someone. Thank you for our treasured connection, and for all the love we shared, we hold it close and it remains with us, long after they’ve gone. 

I am always in awe of how much love there is. It takes courage to love, and then it hurts when we lose someone; but what else matters in this life? Alongside the pain of loss, we’re so grateful to have known and loved someone, and for how they enriched our life, and that is what matters most.

I hope you’ve known love this year, and I hope that alongside the difficult dark days, there has been the lamplight of friendship and that you know how much you matter in this world.

We don’t say this enough, so maybe that’s a good thing to take into a new year, a habit of saying Thank You to those you’re lucky to know and love. 

It might sound soppy, but that’s ok. You can joke that you’re in a Richard Curtis film, as you tell someone how happy you are that you know them. Soppy can be good. And that friend may have a warm glow from your appreciation, like eating a bowl of tomato soup on a soggy day.

I had lunch with a friend in London this year, and she said such lovely things to me about our friendship, that I blushed and was briefly speechless. A busker was playing flamenco music and my friend began to dance, while talking about the spirit of ‘duende’. This translates roughly to ‘having a soul – a heightened expression of heart and emotion.’

Perhaps it was the music, or the sweltering London heatwave, but it’s such a vivid memory of a wonderful day, when we both expressed how much we cherish our friendship. 

You could imagine some flamenco music giving you the courage to say Thank You to someone in 2024, and let them know how special they are to you. (You can warn them of imminent soppy stuff, or find whatever works for you, whilst passing on a few Thank You’s.)

Now back to my Post-it note to 2023… even finding gratitude for the things that seemed rubbish at first.

Like the heavy rain at a friend’s barbecue. Their children are obsessed with snails, so they had the best time collecting snails and naming each one after us adults. And Thank You for whoever invented umbrellas, and washing powder that gets snail slime out of clothes…

Wishing you the best for 2024

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash