409. Looking Back, and Wanting to Set Stuff on Fire

New Year’s Eve is almost here. A new year lies ahead, full of promise and possibility. As this year draws to a close, we take down Christmas decorations, make resolutions, and burn effigies in the streets.

Burn, año viejo, burn!What? We don’t do that in America?

This country is no fun.

As a kid in Ecuador, one of my favorite holiday traditions was the burning of the año viejo, or old year. Every New Year’s Eve, families gather to burn their own año viejo: a crude effigy of a person stuffed with sawdust, fitted with a papier-mâché mask, and doused in something flammable. Popular likeness for año viejo masks include superheroes, cartoon characters, and (of course) politicians.

In addition to sawdust, some people stuff a few firecrackers into their año viejo. Such effigies do not go gentle into that good night. They go with roaring flames and an irregular series of bangs. Man, I miss Ecuador.

The burning of the año viejo is a beautiful tradition: a symbol of letting go of the past year’s troubles and failures. (It’s also fun for pyromaniacs.) My dad, ever the creative missionary, used an año viejo one New Year’s Eve to share a lesson from the book of Romans: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

I’m sorry to say my little Indiana town probably won’t let me set fire to stuff on the streets, even as a cherished symbol of moving forward. Since I can’t burn an año viejo, I’ll have to settle for making some New Year’s resolutions. Before I do, however, I should probably review the old ones.

Here are my resolutions for 2015. Did I keep them? Before they go up in a metaphorical cloud of smoke, let’s find out.

I will be more intentional in keeping my New Year’s resolutions.

Yeah, no. As usual, I kept several of my New Year’s resolutions, but it was only by dint of trying generally to be a better person. I had to look up my old resolutions in order to write today’s blog post, which means I failed to keep this one.

I will work on my Spanish.

I kept this one, but not exactly on purpose. My plan was to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender in Spanish, which I definitely didn’t do. However, since starting work as a CNA in a nursing home earlier this year, I’ve spoken Spanish regularly with one of the residents. I declare this resolution sort of kept.

I will practice spinning an old broomstick.

I didn’t keep this one. My talent for twirling a broomstick like some sort of janitorial ninja went mostly unpracticed this year. Sometimes, when I spin my broomstick in the local park, Amish kids stare at me fixedly with blank expressions. It’s a little creepy. I wish I could find a more private place for stick-twirling.

I will have a more positive attitude.

I actually kept this one, thanks in no small part to my resignation from a horrible job. (It’s so much easier to think positively when you aren’t crushed every day by impossible expectations, thankless conditions, and toxic people.) So much changed this year: much of it for the better. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, but things seem a little more hopeful.

I will research career options.

I sort of kept this one, but not really. I researched the steps required to become a Certified Nursing Assistant—and promptly became one—but that isn’t exactly a step forward. It’s more like a step sideways. I also did a tiny bit of research into editing and did some preliminary editing for a friend’s manuscript… that counts, right?

I will value prayer more.

I… didn’t keep this one. I’m sorry to say I valued prayer less this year than in years past. I’m working on it.

What are my resolutions for 2016? That shall wait until next time!

Did you keep your resolutions this year? Let us know in the comments!


We did it, guys. WE DID IT! Operation Yuletide reached its fundraising goal thanks to the staggering generosity of a few awesome people! The fundraiser is still going, and it’s not too late to donate—every dollar helps, and there are rewards for donors! Check it out here!

2 thoughts on “409. Looking Back, and Wanting to Set Stuff on Fire

  1. Heck yeah that preliminary editing counts! It moved you a step closer to work as an editor, right? Then that counts. Could you have done more? Sure, probably. We always can (or at least most often can) but that doesn’t discount what you did. The point of reflecting on the last year’s goals is to reevaluate. You see what worked and what didn’t, and then really sit and think about what could be done differently in the future. 🙂

    I don’t do resolutions, but I do have a yearly goal list. I try to make it a point to look at it on the first of every month, that way I can remind myself of what I was planning for the year. It helps a lot to do that. Some months I forget, but I did okay checking back in at least once every 30 days or so in 2015.

    I’m excited at my own personal growth because this year’s “goal” list is called “Concepts to Consider.” Instead of goals, I’m writing a list of ideas for things to do in the coming year. If they get done, great! If not, well, that’s okay as long as I mindfully considered them. That will make next year’s reevaluation less stressful, because I learned (or am learning) that being present in the current moment is better than dwelling on the past and future. After all, all we have is today! (Even tomorrow, all we’ll have is that “today.”) My goal for today is to be a light to others. So far so good, but the day is still young. 😉

    • An annual goal list is a good idea. For me personally, thinking of objectives as goals, not as New Year’s resolutions, gives them a little more weight. (Of course, I continue to label my yearly objectives as New Year’s resolutions instead of as goals, because I’m a stubborn old git.)

      I wish you the best with your “Concepts to Consider,” and I hope new animations or stories are among the concepts you’re considering. 🙂

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