Goodbye 2022

Tomorrow is Hogmanay, the custom-laden Scottish new year’s eve. While some of my genetic background is Scottish – it is said that the Flora MacDonald who smuggled Bonnie Prince Charlie out of Scotland in 1746 was a distant relative of my mother, who bears the same name —  I don’t exhibit many Scottish traits. I don’t wear a kilt, I don’t really like the bagpipes, I don’t eat haggis and I am not known to be tight with my money.

However, when it comes to the Scottish ritual of redding the house for the upcoming year, I am a true Scot. Folklore has it that, before the arrival of the new year can be celebrated, houses must be cleaned from top to bottom. Traditionally, this has included sweeping out the fireplace to rid the house and its inhabitants of unwanted burdens. It’s also considered good luck for the new year to clear all debts before the stroke of midnight on December 31.

My father-in-law, who celebrated his Scottish heritage, took the redding tradition seriously. Not generally responsible for any of the day-to-day household chores, a couple of days before the end of the year, he turned his home office upside down to ensure it was as clean and tidy as it could be. Once his house was in order, he spent the afternoon visiting friends, bearing a bottle of good Scotch for each of them, to ensure he and they entered the new year on good terms with one another.

Redding my pantry

My own approach is a little more slapdash. I don’t sweep out the fireplace or clean the house from top to bottom but, in the final few days of the year, I always tackle at least one mess and try not to think about the others.

This year, my focus was on the upright freezer and cupboards in our pantry. I have two full-sized freezers, packed as full as they can be. To my shame, I have a tendency to lose food in both of them, mostly due to inadequate labelling and general disorganization.

Yesterday, I dove into the upright freezer with gloved hands, ready to do serious business. I discovered a few long-lost and still usable items (a piece of salmon I had hunted for a couple of weeks before, half a plum cake, some of my favourite Wakefield sausages) as well as some that were not so usable (two long-forgotten popsicles, a small container of homemade ice cream that was mostly ice crystals, two opened packages of now desiccated phyllo pastry). Anything that I could not identify – and there was more of that than I like to admit – along with anything that was obviously unusable went into a garbage bag. Everything else was reorganized: top shelf, meat and fish; second shelf, leftovers (labelled!) and vegetables; third shelf, desserts and bread; bottom shelf, flours and nuts. One basket now contains fruit; the other, herbs and spices.

The pantry cupboards received a similar redding, including a thorough washing to get rid of pantry moths that had taken up residence and a sticky mess of unidentified bits and pieces thoroughly embedded in what I think may once have been honey. Gone are the two mini-packs of sugared breakfast cereal from some long-ago trip with grandchildren. That open box of gluten-free crackers that I bought at least three years ago – gone. Sticky plastic bags containing a few tablespoons of dried-out raisins and prunes – into the garbage bag. The large bag of hard-as-rocks figs met the same fate, as did several bottles of food colouring that had only a few drops left in them. I said goodbye to a dozen or so inch-long candle stubs that, even as I carefully stored them away over the months, I knew I would never use.

I take no pride in admitting that I filled two garbage bags with food that was at one time perfectly edible. But, I do feel satisfied that, having cleared all of the unusable stuff out, I now know what I have and where it is.

Letting go

There are some other things I am tidying up as part of my personal Hogmanay celebration. Three earrings, each of which has lost its mate, have been lurking about for a few years, and I am finally saying goodbye to them, at least as jewellery — I hung them on our tree, where they sparkled beautifully in the lights. Two solo socks bit the dust yesterday morning when I was searching through my drawer for a matched pair. When I was going through a box of family photos the other day, I came upon a picture of two kids. Much as I stared and stared at them, I didn’t recognize either them or the background, so the photo has made its way into the waste basket.

I extended my year-end tidy up to perhaps non-traditional areas. Rather than starting the new Ava Lee novel tantalizing me from my bedside table, I finished reading two books that I’ve had on the go for months. My partner and I decided to try to finish various TV shows we are partway through by year’s end. We’ve made it through one and have two more to go.

With just one day to go, I think my redding is complete for this year. As long as I don’t go into the basement, which is long overdue for a post-renovation tidy up and reorganization, I feel satisfied with my small attempts to leave 2022 tidily. I have even cleared my debts – at least the financial ones.

Bring on 2023!

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