New Year’s Resolutions and Gratitude Lists

Many of us make new years resolutions. Irresistible to those of us who like an occasional “fresh start”, the tradition of new years resolutions goes back 4,000 years, all the way to ancient Babylonia. At that time, the new year occurred at the vernal equinox, the start of spring, and many Babylonians resolved to make good on their word and return borrowed farm equipment, so their neighbors could begin the new year of farming.

Making resolutions can be a powerful act. Doing so encourages us to slow down, take stock of the year, and think about what we’d like to change or create in the coming year. Before Anna was born, Michael and I started a tradition of writing our resolutions on paper and then burning them in the fireplace, a ritual we have continued to do as a family. Young children can write something they wish to take with them in the new year and something they wish to leave behind. Resolutions and wishes can be burned in a fire, or kept in journal or a wish jar. (See Wish Jar instructions, below.)

Because the new year is a time of transition, some people, especially kids, may enjoy looking back at the past year, as well as forward into the new one. After all, the Roman god Janus, who was said to rule beginnings, transitions, doorways and time, was often depicted with two faces so he could look back and forward at once.

Gratitude Lists

One way to look back at the year is to make a gratitude list. What are you grateful for from the past year? Often our gratitude list includes things we’d like to carry with us or create more of in the coming year. The list can also be kept in a jar (below), or written in a journal or on a poster. Another fun idea? Start a journal or list of things you’re grateful for on New Years Day, or place gratitude notes in a jar, to be opened on New Years Eve next year.

My dear husband gave me this journal at the end of 2005. He wrote in it every week throughout the year.

My own gratitude list includes:
A family that laughs a lot
Good friends
A Costa Rican adventure
A growing blog readership
The smell of clean laundry
The air after it rains
Vintage anything
Old cities and brick signs
Hats and gloves
Hopeful new immigrants
Good health
A warm house
Meaningful work
A new book
Books and book stores
Amusement parks
County fairs
Swing music
Salsa Music
Road trips
Fresh food
A smile from a stranger
Snow-capped mountains
Starry nights
Wonder name a few things

What’s on your gratitude list?

Happy New Year!

Want to read more? Check out:

New Year’s Traditions Around the World and at Home

Honor Your Family with Fun Gratitude Crafts

Make a Wish Jar

You’ll need:

Strips of paper
Jar and lid
Paint, fabric, ribbon, rickrack, letters cut from magazine pages, or other items, as desired
Primer, optional
Screwdriver, hammer and cardboard, or box cutter, optional.

Decorate your jar. You may want to prime and paint the jar lid and tie a ribbon or fabric bow around the neck.

If you want to make a slit in the lid for papers, place the lid over a piece of cardboard and carefully cut with the box cutter or hammer a screwdriver into it, in a straight line. You can also just open the jar to insert wishes.

Put the papers into the jar and place it somewhere you see often or somewhere you can check in on or add to over time.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Gratitude jar by The Healthy Ginger

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

Make Noisemakers to Welcome the New Year

Celebrate the New Year with Traditions from Around the World and at Home

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10 responses to “New Year’s Resolutions and Gratitude Lists

  1. Hi Suz,

    I’m so very impressed with your mission. After a couple life-threatening events in 2010, my life slowed way down and appreciation for my relationships (already high) soared. With becoming a Mom this year, I have taken it a step further. I am constantly working on finding the balance each and every day with keeping my business going forward, being a Mom and a partner to my love. I would love to have a cup of tea or coffee sometime in the new year.

    I am teaching a new interactive couples’ seminar series this year that helps teach couples how to integrate their love languages and use their daily activities as quality time together. Plus they learn a few new activities designed to incorporate more wonder and loving memories into every day they are blessed to have together. Love to tell you a little more. It’s called “It Takes Two to Tango”… here’s the link:
    Video with Val & Joy:

    I’m just getting back into blogging this year and would love to direct a few of my followers in your direction.

    Much happiness,
    Founder Joy of Romance, Inc.

  2. A gratitude list is a lovely idea. I make a “goal” list this year:
    I may need to get a gratitude list going, too.
    Happy New Year!

  3. Hi Joy! Thank you for letting me know about the Joy of Romance. Yes, it sounds like we have much in common in terms of outlook. I look forward to further connection.

  4. Belated Happy Birthday and New Year, Mel! Wow, what a way to start your year (and decade) – a trip to Peru! I love your resolutions and found them very inspiring. *Clink*ing my imaginary glass.

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  9. Hi Suz, I’ve just been looking at my Pinterest stats and see that lots of people like your gratitude jar idea which i shared in a blog post back in 2014. I don’t know how to locate it on Pinterest as I think someone saved it from my blog but I thought I’d let you know it was on there and getting lots of likes. I credited you in the original post and have also added a comment on Pinterest to be clear it’s your picture not mine! I wish I’d managed to keep it up but after a couple of months life got busy and I forgot all about it. I loved reading the things I had written though when I discovered the jar a year later.

    • Hi Nic! Thanks so much for sharing, and for your diligence. I really appreciate it. Your blog and Pinterest are lovely. I, too, love this project and the reminder to contemplate and express gratitude. Thanks again for writing! Enjoy your spring, family and garden.

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