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... and now we have to clean up
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... and now we have to clean up

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The wrapping paper is wadded. The cookies are crumbs. Ralphie has shot his eye out. The ‘20s have not been Roaring, yet the two years have certainly roared. And now we face winter.

The still-optimistic enthuse, “Welcome, 2022! This is our year!”

I’m prone to ponder, “How will we ever maneuver it?”

The Christmas story recounts the Wise Men who had a star to guide them. Lacking an illuminating pointer, how do we find our next step?

The psalmist claims, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

At the Y, Robert Frost reflects that “way leads on to way.”

Kris Kringle sings to Winter Warlock in “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” to “Put one foot in front of the other.”

In January 1994, I had two babies six weeks early. I told the lactation consultant that I wanted to try to nurse them. She was giddy with enthusiasm. She was a breastfeeding guru, but had never taught a mama to nurse twins.

Odds were not for me. These were my first babies, so I had no experience. The babies were in the hospital; I was at home. Premature babies aren’t strong enough to stimulate milk production like a healthy eight-pounder. Two is greater than one.

What I had in my favor was determination and a cheerleader.

The effort was exciting when I visited my babies in the hospital nursery. The staff petted and encouraged me. And then we went home. The babies tried and cried. The mama tried and cried.

My nursing teacher called me each day for the first few weeks. We’d discuss my progress and setbacks. She’d give me new tactics.

I repeatedly wailed, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!”

“Okay,” she gently calmed. “You don’t have to do it anymore. You can choose to lay this down. But can you do it today?”

“Yes,” I gasped between sobs, “I can do it today.”

“Okay. Do it today. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Before long, the girls and I got the hang of it. We figured out what worked for us. My cheerleader moved on to cheering other first-time mamas.

I never forgot her instruction. I’ve reminded myself and reapplied her words to every struggle for almost 28 years. I’ve passed it on to others time and again.

Can you do it today?

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”

You know what gives me an adrenaline rush?!

Worrying about tomorrow!

You know what induces my endorphins?!

Worrying about next week! Next month! Next year!

New Year’s Day presents a whole fresh year to fret! A brand-new, clean calendar with dates to circle in red and cover in question marks!

During his school years, my son Phillip struggled with tests, especially the standardized beasts. The first time that he was in 3rd grade (you read that right), he sat in his desk and refused to bubble. He thought he couldn’t do it, so he wouldn’t do it. His teacher showed him how to cover up the parts he wasn’t working on, to focus on the page in front of him, basically singing, “Put one foot in front of the other.” He never mastered the pencil-and-paper process, but he figured out how to move to the next section. (Fortunately for him, his parents tossed the reports before he saw them, because they know that grownup life ain’t measured in SAT scores. #TweetThat) He continues to mentally break down the project to not be overwhelmed by the entirety of it, whatever it is.

He has much to teach his mama.

On stressful days, I twist my hair and suck my checks and imagine the wolves pacing, biding their time, preparing to pounce. On successful days, I make lists of Things That Won’t Do Me In. Tomorrow has not eaten me yet.

Okay, 2022. You frighten me. But Jan. 9? I got you. I can do today.

Celeste King Conner thinks we might not be as wary of the new year if didn’t come in the dark of winter. She suggests swapping New Year’s Day with April Fool’s Day. Thoughts? Email her at celestekconner@gmail.com.

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