I’m Thankful There are Two New Year’s Days

Photo by Hieu Do on Unsplash

January is way too close to December.

The end of the year often brings a lot of hustle and bustle, and despite my attempts at creating intentional space in my life and decolonizing and depressurizing the holiday season, I still find it overwhelming to hit Christmas and New Year’s Day within the span of 2 weeks.

I spent most of January (and admittedly, the past 2 years of the pandemic) doing the bare minimum. I stayed home, played Animal Crossing (again), and said ‘no’ more times than I said ‘yes’ to things. And it would have been very easy for my Guilt to come in and rain down all sorts of criticism on me. Those “New Year, New Me” mantras aren’t going to chant themselves without Guilt rhythmically drumming it over my head. Sometimes, it succeeded. At one point, my husband opened the door to our room to me wide-eyed and slack-jawed, with my Nintendo Switch in hand, wondering out loud, “Am I wasting my life?”

Lunar New Year falls on February 1 (tomorrow) this year. It dawned on me that this affords a beautiful opportunity.

I’m glad that there are two New Year’s days. The first one is flashy, explosive, and optimistic. We shed yet another year of struggle and heartache, and beam as we look forward, hoping for the promise of something inspiring in the roads ahead. We need that burst of energy to catapult us out of patterns that would otherwise lock us into place.

After that, we experience the lull. The fizzling out of the initial spark, the realization that in order to keep this fire going we need to take our destiny into our own hands and start climbing one step at a time. We can no longer count on the razzle dazzle to motivate us to move forward.

We also need to fucking rest.

So much of the pandemic has taught me the importance of rest. I see it in every client and every friend and family member. We can’t keep running forward into the new year like rabid animals, attacking our goals and frothing with excess anxiety in order to live a happier, healthier life. And resting doesn’t just mean sleeping. I love this list from TED that explains the 7 types of rest. It’s so incredibly important to rest our bodies, our souls, our minds so that we can create a cycle rather than a straight line of productivity and completing and competing energies.

Having January to rest is going to be my new tradition. After all, February brings Lunar New Year, an opportunity to start my intentions at a pace that integrates my pace, my needs, and my many cultures.

Lunar New Year for me is actually relatively new; in Filipino culture, it is a mixed celebration, some people do and some people don’t because of the mixed nature of Chinese traditions and lots of colonization of identities within Filipino culture. My family in the Philippines give red envelopes and celebrate with noodles and tikoy (sticky fried rice cake) and cleaning out the house, but many of the friends and family I grew up with never mentioned it when I was a kid. It was only declared a non-working holiday in 2012 in the Philippines, relatively recently.

I love the concepts I’ve learned so far about Lunar New Year, simply because it balances the flash of the Gregorian New Year with engaging metaphors that make more sense to me from a brain perspective. In Lunar Year, the traditions such as resetting the feng shui in your home with cleaning, round objects for bringing wealth into the home and gifting red envelopes to the younger generation, and releasing lanterns and visiting relatives who have passed on all inspire me and ground me more into the symbolism of planting seeds, cyclical and sustainable practices that enrich us as individuals as well as a community.

As a Filipina-American, now married to a Chinese-American, and an ever dynamic human, constantly reevaluating what I choose to be the significance of traditions in my life, I am hoping that Lunar New Year is the culmination of these cultures and the chance to say to everyone I know: “Hope we all get rich.”

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Chay Tanchanco, LMFT

Chay Tanchanco, LMFT

The Filipina With Freckles. Licensed therapist. Writing to fill the world with a little bit more hope than it had yesterday, one therapeutic insight at a time.