A TWO-FACED NEW YEAR

Wikipedia's statue of Janus in the Vatican Museum

Wikipedia’s picture of a statue of Janus in the Vatican Museum

A LITTLE BOOK OF POEMS & PRAYERS by Joan Walsh Anglund

A LITTLE BOOK OF POEMS & PRAYERS by Joan Walsh Anglund

Blackeye Peas:  good luck and 100 cal, 4g fiber and 7g protein.

Blackeye Peas: good luck and 100 cal, 4g fiber and 7g protein.

So far in 2015, Colorado has been snowy and miserably cold, but January’s mythology still makes it a fascinating month.  January is named for Janus, Roman mythology’s god of beginnings and transitions, and statues of Janus are two-faced.  Not in an insincere or deceitful way, but because one face looks back at the past, and the other face looks forward to the future.  For me, looking back at the old year is important preparation for looking forward and making resolutions and plans for the new year.

My breakfast on January 1st included traditional blackeye peas. I don’t focus on the many possible interpretations of this tradition.  I actually like blackeye peas, and the idea that they might welcome a lucky new year is nice, too.

January has many unusual days and observances, and each of the pictures below represents a special day this month.

When I was with my mom in Kansas before Christmas, at night when she was tucked snugly in her bed, I read to her from Joan Walsh Anglund’s book,   A LITTLE BOOK OF POEMS AND PRAYERS  She couldn’t see the colorful little illustrations, and the individual poems and prayers received mixed reviews. If Mom didn’t like one, she said “You can quit now,” and that was her response several times. But even more frequently she would say, “Read that again.” I ended up reading the entire book twice, leaving out the rejected poems and prayers the second time.  Two stand out as read-it-again poems/prayers. They seemed to me—as maybe they were to my mother as well—excellent thoughts for the new year.

The first is an American Indian Prayer:O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to all the world. ~ Hear me! I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom. ~ Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. ~ Make my hands respect the things you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice. ~ Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. ~ Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. ~ I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy…myself.”

The source of the second prayer is Unknown:Dear Father, hear and bless ~ Thy beasts and singing birds, ~ And guard with tenderness ~ Small things that have no words.”

This first week in January, I wish us all appreciation of the past year and hope for this new year.

January is National Hot Tea month and Oatmeal month.

January is National Hot Tea month and Oatmeal month.

Find a way to "Get A Balanced Life" this month.

Find a way to “Get A Balanced Life” this month.

Cousin Glee unplugging toilet at the Girl Cousins' Reunion.  January is also "Someday We'll Laugh About This" month.

Cousin Glee unplugging toilet at the Girl Cousins’ Reunion. January is also “Someday We’ll Laugh About This” month.

January is "Walk Your Dog" month.  (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

January is “Walk Your Dog” month. (Pictures by Marylin Warner)

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83 Comments

Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom", celebrations, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, special quotations, Things to be thankful for

83 responses to “A TWO-FACED NEW YEAR

  1. jmksheep

    I enjoy your insights and inspirations. Thank you … and Happy New Year!

  2. And to you, too, Jan! Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warmer, which will be a welcomed change. 🙂

  3. I’ve heard that second quote somehow else – but can’t remember where…

  4. The American Indian prayer is very moving. I shall also be supporting the month of hot tea and oatmeal. Onwards with the new year, whatever it may herald for us.

    • Amen to that, Andrew. We’ve both had some rough spots last year, so here’s a toast to an Indian prayer served with healthy oatmeal and delicious hot tea to begin a new and very wonderful year.

  5. Yes, so much to look towards and so much to look back upon. Lovely to be reminded of Joan Walsh Anglund, and the second prayer is a stand out prayer for me. My mother still has words and memories even if day to day things get muddled. One of her favourite books at the moment which we enjoyed together is Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. Pages that were particular favourites were those with illlustrations by Eloise Wilkin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eloise_Wilkin

    • Gallivanta, you so often give me excellent links, and this one is terrific. Thank you. Now I have new ideas to take back with me when I go to Kansas to visit my mom this month. Muldrow’s book is delightful, and I think Mom will especially enjoy several of the sections. Again, thank you.

      • Yes, some of the sections didn’t appeal to my mother but we tried to select a new page every day. I am so glad we grew up with Little Golden Books. I still have some of them, as does my sister.

      • Those are the kinds of books we keep because they do mean so much to us–on the page as well as in our lives then and now–so I’m glad you and your sister kept yours.

      • Molly

        Mom, I just had a great idea after reading all the great ideas from Gallivanta! You should try taking my Little Bible Stories for Little People book. Grandma used to love reading to me from that book, perhaps it would perk an interest or memory for her!

  6. Happy New Year and all the best for 2015!!

  7. calvin

    And the last day of December would stand up and cry, ” am getting a little tired of this coin toss game”.

    For me, the poems/prayers are identical. That heaven is the earth we walk upon.

    2015, bring it on.

    January 1st, Colorado and Black Eyed Peas makes perfect sense. I think we all start the year seeking comfort and shelter, knowing full well we need to store-up mentally for the journey ahead. I think it is important to start a new year at home. I have always come home for New Years, always.

    Happy New Year and shtufffs to you Marylin, dance through it or ‘plunge’ through it -whatever it takes.

    • I agree, Calvin, we do start the year seeking comfort and shelter…and also hope and encouragement. It is very important to start the new year at home. No parties or fancy celebrations, just being home and grateful for it. Thank you especially for the “dance through it or plunge..whatever it takes.” I’m going to write that down! And wishes for the same for you.

    • Molly

      Calvin – along the same lines of your “poems/prayers are identical” statement, I would also add that many songs or pieces of music are also poems or prayers!

      • And there are CDs of children singing both, Molly. I saw one at Target today, and your comment gave me an idea to get one for Grandma…and for the kids. You know how they love to sing and bop along to music as they do things. 🙂

  8. Claudia

    It hasn’t been so snowy here, but mercy, the days are dark. The skies feel like a flak jacket laced to tightly, and the damp seeps into the bones. Holiday day lights and meals helped keep the darkness at bay somewhat, but the endlessness of gray will get to folks soon if the sun doesn’t shine. Some bright snow glistening with sunshine…am sure it is out there in the future somewhere. Meanwhile, enjoy yours! Happy New Year.

    • Oh, Claudia, I grew up not all that far from where you are, and I know the gray winter days and the ice that leaves a dampness seeping into the bones. I remember them well. But the “some bright snow glistening with sunshine” certainly is out there in your future. You can count on it. Believe it.
      A very Happy New Year to you, too, Claudia.

    • Molly

      Sometimes all it takes is getting a really good scented candle, and lighting it in the “dark, gray days” and enjoy the wonderful scent and watch the flame flicker. It can be very uplifting! Give it a try, Claudia!

  9. Health, Wealth and Happiness to you for the New Year Marylin.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  10. Nancy Parker Brummett

    Thanks for sharing this wisdom, Marilyn! My dad always wanted blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day too. Maybe I should return to that tradition. 🙂

    • It’s not too late, Nancy! Drain a can of blackeye peas, heat them in a pan with a dab of butter and a little oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. When you take your first bites, close your eyes and picture those you love most and wish them all luck and joy and health and happiness. Then drink a bit of champagne if you have some, pretending it’s January 1st, or even toast with a Pepsi. Lift your glass and say Happy New Year! 🙂

  11. juliabarrett

    I think this has most definitely been a two-faced year. We would be better off as a society if we looked both ways before moving on.
    Those prayers are beautiful. The second is close to perfect. Your mother has good taste. Happy black-eyed pea New Year, Marylin.

    • If any year needed a strong look and prayers it was last year, and we do need to look both ways before moving on this year, Julia. The second prayer I ended up reading multiple times to my mom, and she kept smiling and nodding.
      Happy blackeye pea New Year to you, too.

  12. Lovely post, beautiful prayers. Never heard of blackeyed peas for breakfast, sounds a bit strange – in fact until recently the only Blackeyed Peas I’d heard of were the pop group! (My spellchecker doesn’t know them either, keeps changing it to blackened!) A very happy new year to you and all your family, Marylin.

    • 🙂 The vegetable/legume is blackeye peas (it’s one word and then peas on the can), and it comes canned or frozen, though it’s one vegetable I prefer canned. I don’t think the Blackeyed Peas group would have the same tradition of bringing good luck. (In America the tradition goes back to slavery days, carries on to poverty in general; there are earlier Egyptian myths for blackeye peas, too, but I’m not sure what they are.)
      Whether you eat the peas or not, I wish you and your family a very happy new year, too. 😉

    • Molly

      There is even a really yummy restaurant chain called Black Eyed Pea. There used to be one close to home, and it was good down home type cooking and meals! Yum! Now I am hungry!

      • Okay, the next time you, Trevor and the kids come to Colorado, we’ll take you all to the Black Eyed Pea. No matter when it is, it will be our first dinner there together in 2015 (we’ll wait until you’re here) and we’ll eat black eye peas for good luck!

  13. Happy New Year Marylin.

  14. I love the prayers. The Native American one made me think of a quote I have on my desk at school: “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” (African proverb)

    You’re right. The “little things” really are the “big things” in life. At Christmas, with our family, we made gingerbread cookies and were delighted with the homemade gifts of food that we received from our daughters. Wishing you a very happy New Year, Marilyn. 😉

  15. Judy, I think many cultures and religions believe that often our real enemy is within, don’t you? Sometimes we forget it, though, and I’m afraid this year was one of those times for our country.
    The best gifts and the ones I treasure most are those made by family and friends. And when we get together and make cookies or fudge or soups, it’s twice delicious, once in the making and again in the eating together.
    Happy New Year to you and your family, too.

  16. I love the American Indian prayer, Marylin. Thank you for sharing it. I’m excited to read this month is National Hot Tea month. I’ve got a good start, I had five cups of Green Tea today…love it! Happy New Year to you and your beautiful mother. xo

    • Five cups of Green Tea today? Wow, Jill. If Green Tea is as healthy and helpful as predicted, this could be an excellent year for you. I try to get one cup of tea a day, but coffee is my drink of choice, and supposedly coffee is a deterrent to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

    • Molly

      Green Tea is wonderful, I prefer to drink it as an Iced Drink, but when Mom tried it, it sure didn’t agree with her!

  17. A fascinating melange of evocative words and images, many of them nostalgic. I remember the Joan Walsh Anglund books from my children’s era. As for New Year’s menu, we had dinner for seven at our house with pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and lemon creme dessert. You are launched into a very Happy New Year, Marylin!

    • Your table setting pictures were beautiful, Marian, and I’m sure the meal was delicious. What a good way to end one year and begin a new one!

      • Molly

        I have always heard that you are to eat:

        Greens – because they resemble money.
        Beans – resemble money; more specifically, they symbolize coins.
        Noodles and Grains – noodles are symbols of long life, and grains like rice, quinoa, and barley stand for abundance.
        Fruit – On New Year’s Eve, Mexicans pop a grape for each stroke of midnight, with each representing a page of the calendar ahead. If one is bitter, watch out for that month! Other popular fruits to eat include the pomegranates, with its many seeds standing in for prosperity, and figs, which are a symbol of fertility.
        Pork – Pigs are a lucky symbol because they root forward, and are rotund.
        Cake – a ring shaped cake is symbolic of coming full circle.
        Fish – the swim in schools which is symbolic of abundance.
        Cornbread – the color of GOLD

        To eat all of these foods together – would be a very STRANGE meal. I would have to do with out the PORK and FISH…but otherwise I could handle the rest.

      • Where did you learn all those specifics? I especially like eating the grapes, one for each month, and a bitter one warns you of that month. Wow! Then of course eating a ring-shaped cake to symbolize coming full circle. This is fascinating, Molly!

  18. I must admit, the bit about Janus is a revelation, and truly so, January does perch on the cusp of the bygone year and the one sprawling ahead. It is time when we reflect and reminisce, smile or wince at a thought or two, and wonder if we’d carry the doubts and convictions beyond.

    Wishing boundless joy, good health and opulence of fortunes to you and your loved ones in the New Year and the all years to come.

    • Thank you, and the same to you and your loved ones!
      Janus is, to me, excellent motivation to pause at the end of one year before planning for the new year. It seems if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat them.

  19. How cold is it where you are in Colorado? Maybe that number will help me warm up to the cold we’re having here in Southern California! Have you read through Bill Bennett’s “The Book of Virtues”? It’s a thick volume of stories, poems, letters, etc. I think you and Mary would enjoy going through it together.

    • I do have Bennett’s book, Darla, and some of the poems really might appeal to her. Thanks for the reminder. I can never predict what she’ll respond to, but this is a good one to try.
      It’s been bitterly cold here, but we expect it here, at least to some degree in Colorado. The shocker was watching the national weather and news and learning how cold it’s been for you in Southern California.

  20. Happy New Year to you. 🙂

  21. Jim

    This week’s blog entry is a wonderful New Year’s greeting for your readers in so many different ways. Good job, sweetie. Three personal reactions:

    The bust of Janus might also be the perfect symbol for the quotation some history teachers like to use on the first day of class: “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” I always wanted to ask the teacher if he/she planned to skip over mankind’s good works and accomplishments that might be worth repeating.

    The picture of our granddaughter Grace walking the dog warms my heart. Grace seems to understand how important it is to spend time with one’s pet for the welfare of the pet as well as our own enjoyment. Grace respects all of earth’s creatures and she loves to see pictures of them and learn about them. I wonder if the time and caring she gives to the family pets might have engendered her love for all animals.

    Grandma Mary chose the Native American prayer. I marvel at her choice. That prayer is amazing. It could be recited by anyone of any faith anywhere in the world and be appropriate. I wonder what in particular might have caught Mary’s attention in the prayer. The part about learning lessons hidden in every leaf and rock brought back a memory of mine. As a nineteen year old who was looking for his path in life as well as in the mountains, I sat on the edge of deep gorge carved by ancient glaciers at the foot Longs Peak in Colorado. I felt so tiny–a mere speck at that moment in the continuum of a billion years. I picked up a small gray rock next to me. I felt how smooth the ages had made it. I stared at it, and I asked, “So what is this all about?” I imagined the rock to answer my question for all creation: “It’s about you. Do something with it.” That moment was not intellectually profound by any means. It felt more like my little rock was praying for me and mankind. May God bless our Native American brothers and sisters.

    • I was amazed that Mom said to read the Native American prayer again, too. The more I think about it, though, the more I wonder if she is responding more to rhythms and sounds than to actual specifics at this point. I was glad to read it to her again…and again…and each time she nodded, even though her eyes were closed, so she was following something.
      Honey, your description of our Grace is so sweet and real. She really does have a heart for taking care of animals–except mice; she’s not crazy about the mice that sneak into the house and get past their cat Munchkin –and she has a soft heart for kindness for other children, too.
      I love your rock story. What did you do with the rock after the answer came to you to do something with it? 😉

      • Molly

        I wonder what Dad did with that rock, too! Did he put it in his pocket to be a “worry stone”? Did he lay it back down, so that it could continue being a part of it’s environment? Maybe he took it home, and painted a bug, flower or a smiley face on it.

        My guess is that he laid it right back where it came from so that it would continue to make up the natural environment.

        🙂

      • Jim

        I did put the rock back in its place and continued hiking on down the moraine. I hiked with renewed energy, still a cocky teenager, but one who was starting to feel both humble and important at the same time, important in a larger Plan.

    • Molly

      Awwwww! Grace is definitely our animal lover. She is so kind and gentle, yet fun loving with all animals. The one time that she was trying to love on an animal and it bit her hand, it didn’t even seem to phase her love for all creatures. (Although she did get much smarter about how to approach new animals).

      I think that a lot of her kindness, and the way that she cares for animals comes from her Grandpa – Maggie – Woof – Woof! You are very calm, caring and compassionate with animals. Unlike Grace, you even did befriend that mouse that snuck into your apartment – may he/she RIP.

      Thank you for all the wonderful influences you have on the babies.

      • Jim

        Thank you, Molly. G&G are delightful. It is a privilege to spend time with them. Mor-Mor and I frequently tell each other how fortunate we are to have you and Trevor and our grandkids. 🙂

  22. Great prayers Marylin and you’ve given us some ready made things to celebrate this month – I always start the day with oatmeal and will most definitely be participating in dog walking month whether I like it or not! – but I do like it 🙂

    • Oatmeal with chopped walnuts in one of my favorite breakfasts, Andrea, so I’ll really fit in this January. But our poor Maggie is almost 13 and is getting hard of hearing–and likes to sniff around rather walk with me–so my daily walks are without her now. The the tea instead of coffee will be a hard adjustment, but I’ve decided to trade out a few cups each day this month. 🙂

  23. Happy New Year to you, Marilyn, and safe travels. The good luck food we have at New Years, learned from the Pennsylvania Dutch, is pork and sauerkraut.

    • Hi, Ellen. With my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother, we often had pork and sauerkraut (and also mashed potatoes, too), but it was for regular meals. Maybe it was a good luck food all the time?
      We’re safely back from our trip to Kansas now, and today the interstate was closed going both ways because of ice and wind, so we feel lucky to be home safe and sound.

  24. Happy New Year, Marylin! I love the prayers you shared above. I wish you a year full of love and beautiful surprises as well as peace and hope. Blessings, Robyn

  25. A blessed new year to you, Marilyn.
    I really like the American Indian prayer. Thanks for sharing.
    As always, I learn a lot from your blog posts. I have to make oatmeal a regular habit. I usually eat the steal cut oats about twice per week.

    • I like the steal cut oats, too, Elaine, but it takes a long time and I have make several servings at once and then heat a portion each day in the microwave. If you have a way to prepare them fresh each day without taking a long time, please let me know.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the American Indian prayer, and I wish you a blessed New Year as well.

  26. Hi Marylin…sorry the weather has been so cold and snowy in Colorado…here in New Hampshire, we had a pretty mild Nov and Dec…but January may make up for that. 🙂
    I love both of the prayers…I’m not surprised your mom wanted to hear those again. Thank you for sharing, as always, the beautiful relationship you maintain with that special lady. I’m hoping to do a better job of coming to read your wonderful posts in this New Year…2014 was overwhelming with all of the writing classes I took.
    I’m wishing you and your family a Happy and Healthy New Year…filled with love and sunshine, even on the cloudiest of days. 🙂

    • Good to hear from you, Vivian, and hear that New Hampshire is still a good place and a wise move for you. Of course, though, anything that gets us closer to grandchildren is a very good move! 🙂
      Wishes for a happy and healthy new year to you and your family, too.

  27. Happy New Year Marylin- I love this post. From the black eye peas, to the poems with your mom, to the funny picture with the toilet, I feel the blessings of the new year.
    (I know my grandmother made black eyed peas. She was a Greek from the old country and I’m wondering if she made them for new year’s???)
    I love oatmeal! Your post is a wonderful hodgepodge of good feelings and stuff for us all.
    Here’s to more things we can laugh about later. 🙂
    xo Joanne

    • I’ve been waiting to use Glee’s picture from the Girl Cousins’ Reunion for over a year, Joanne. She just grabbed a plunger–it wasn’t even her mess to clean up–but she’s a can-do kind of person. And I know she’ll laugh about being used as a great example for January’s “Someday we’ll laugh about this.”
      This was a hodgepodge of good feelings, or at least that’s how I felt when I was writing it. And the expression “Someday we’ll laugh about this” is something our family says a lot, and it usually adds at least a smile to awkward moments. 🙂

  28. This post sounds very interesting Marylin very inspirational.

  29. Molly

    Probably my all time favorite prayer is the one that we do as a family before every meal. “Thank, thank, thank you God….” Probably because to hear us all singing it together is pretty neat, and a great reminder of all that we have and all that God has provided us!

    • When we first began singing it together at meals, Grace and Gannon were so little, and their sweet voices were like angels singing. And yes, having us all together singing the prayer is a song thanking God for all we’ve been given. When the kids are adults we’ll be singing it with their children, I’m sure. It’s our tradition of gratitude.

  30. Love both prayers, Marylin. I didn’t realize “Someday we’ll laugh about this” had its own month – I pretty much celebrate that phrase throughout the year!! Happy New Year!

  31. Jane Thorne

    Happy New Year warm hugs for you Marylin and all your loved ones and here’s to a sparkly2015. ❤ xXx

  32. Hot tea? Check. Oatmeal? Check. January isn’t so bad after all! I have oatmeal every morning in the winter and love it. Not sure about black eyed peas, I must have had them but don’t remember but I had no idea they brought good luck.I should start eating them pronto 🙄 Oh Marylin, I love how you always bring in such amazingly interesting facts into your posts and always with a message of truth, wisdom and such delightful humour. The prayers are just beautiful, I can see why they were your dear mom’s favourites. Keep warm and cosy and be careful in the snow – oh and I am making sure to drink my coffee along side my tea and always think of you when I do 🙂 May 2015 be filled with every blessing for you and your family and I look forward to many more of your wonderful Friday posts 🙂

    • I can’t give up the coffee entirely, Sherri, and since it’s supposed to be a deterrent to dementia, I gladly drink at least a few cups every day.
      We are trying to stay warm and cosy, but after sunshine and a high of 47 today, tomorrow is predicted to be a high of 30 and 1-3″ of snow over sleet. I think I’ll stay in and eat my oatmeal! 🙂

  33. Wonderful thoughts for getting the new year off on the right path, Marylin. 🙂 May it be a good year for all.

    • And for you as well! Yesterday it was bitterly cold outside, so I curled up under a blanket and set a timer for 15 min. and wrote about all I’d learned last year. Then I set it for 15 more min. and wrote about how those things affect how I look at this new year. It was very interesting.

  34. You definitely did have a great number of fun things to celebrate and enjoy for the month of January. I felt like it was much more interesting than my monthly post. I now understand what your comment meant. I did not have time to read it when I should have, well the month isn’t over yet. ha ha!
    I liked the poems/prayers found in your book by Joan Walsh Anglund. I have two of her books “Love is a Special Way of Feeling” and “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You.” Both are dated from my kindergarten years. . . She is such a sweet illustrator, does your prayer book have her pretty and delicate pen and ink with pastel watercolors?
    I like knowing it is oatmeal month and thanks for telling us more about Janus. Past and future will be a good way to focus in both directions to make good plans. Also, “someday we will look back and laugh at it” month is how it is always around my life! Year-round!

  35. The reason why I asked about the Joan Walsh Anglund book of prayers illustrations is because my books have such PALE drawings and this cover of your book looks so vibrant, Marylin! I hope you will forgive my late comments…

  36. Great post! I love the photo and good energy of Cousin Glee, and a Girls’ Cousin Reunion sounds like a blast!

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