The last week of December is my favorite week of the year.

Despite—or maybe because of—my flighty nature, I savor the silent march of days that escort out the old year and make space for the new.  This humble piece of time tucked between Christmas and New Years is largely ignored by the social calendar, and I like it that way.

During the last week of December, friends and family seem to operate under a tacit agreement that we dare not verbalize for fear it will shatter:  Don’t call.  Don’t stop by.  I’m sleeping.  I’m cleaning.  I’m thinking.  I want.  to be.  alone.  After the noise and color of Christmas, can you blame us?  Solitude is bliss for the harried parent, grasped in occasional snatches at best.  But the last week of December is benevolent in this regard; parties and shopping are over, kids are content, and the house falls surprisingly still.  We grownups are suddenly, blessedly, left alone.

I love the happysad ritual of looking back over the last twelve months, wondering where they went and how I’ll ever get them back.  With words?  Pictures?  None of it works, so I’m resigned to a soft sigh:  ah, another year gone, slipped out the back door while I was busy in the kitchen.  I look out at the lonely silver sky and soak up the bare-treed bittersweet of it all.

Remember, after your semester finals, when you were the last one to leave the building?  You’d walk down the hall in that gray slant of early afternoon light, accompanied only by the the smell of wet nubby carpet and old textbooks and winter.  You couldn’t wait to get out of there, and yet you found yourself lingering for just a minute more.  There was something intoxicating about inhabiting a once-important space that had, with the turn of the clock, now become useless.  What was noisy and big was now silent and small, and so you stood taller within it.  In that empty hallway you felt changed; stronger, smarter, ready for what was next.  In that small solitude, you were making big plans.

And so the last week of December is for me.  In the quiet collapse of this year, I’m making grand plans to open the next.  I’m standing in that empty hallway, excited and a bit apprehensive, for how will I function without the old familiarity?  What will I choose to become next?

I love the fresh white page and newly-sharpened pencil of it all.  I love scribbling out a future narrative for my life that, though perhaps a bit dreamy and far-fetched, captures the swirling ideas in my head and binds them to words on a page.  Regardless of whether that narrative is ever realized, I think it’s pretty important that we write it.

Don’t you?