comments: 303




When I was little, I used to like New Year's Eve. My dad was a musician and usually worked that night, and my mom would go to wherever he was playing. We three girls would spend the night at our grandma and grandpa's, and that was my happy place: The house was overly warm and almost new. Everything was tidy and beige. In the spare bedroom where we slept, the bed was dressed in heavy cotton sheets and thick wool blankets. There was wall-to-wall carpet, and we would become wild on the floor in a way we never did at home on our hardwoods; we did headstands and somersaults and backbends and walkovers and my grandma would just have a fit. I don't know if she was more worried that we would hurt ourselves or that our underpants were showing. We were so oblivious to either concern. Our grandparents were very old, the oldest people we knew. We were their only grandchildren. I remember one time in seventh or eighth grade, when it was the height of fashion in my crowd to wear rolled-up men's boxer shorts to volleyball practice, I raided my grandpa's dresser and came out into the living room wearing a pair of his. I asked him if I could have them. My grandpa spoke perfect English with a heavy Italian accent, but in that moment he was sure he did not understand my question. Confusion ensued. You want to wear my underpants, to school? Me, French-braided, smiling: Yes! To school? Um, Yes!?!? Could he not see how cool these were? My father gave me $10 and told me to go to Marshalls.

At my grandparents' we would lay on the floor in front of the television and watch all the New Year's Eve shows, and at midnight we would muster a sort of imitated enthusiasm, not old enough yet to truly understand what a miracle another year really is. At bedtime, my grandma would walk around the house, turning everything off. She finally would pull the chains on her cuckoo clock, lifting the heavy pine-cone weights, and then stop the pendulum so the clock would not cuckoo through the night; she'd set the hands for seven so that the next morning it was always ready to start again with just a push. It was so quiet at my grandma's house at night. Our parents were night owls; almost never did I go to bed in a quiet house at home. But at my grandma's you could hear every possible noise: the bed creaking when you moved. The heat turning on and off. The freight train approaching and then going past. Every little house-click and house-thump. Almost twenty years ago I had a panic attack on an airplane in mid-air. Tears streamed down my face. I closed my eyes and was back in my grandma's spare bedroom, in the warm dark with the night-light left on in the hallway, my grandparents sleeping in their twin beds on the other side of the wall. Safe.

I've conjured that place several times this past year, trying to find purchase in my life and in what has, at certain times, felt like being in free-fall. I think that's how most of life is, in a lot of ways. You step forward, and step forward, and then you touch back — everything still here? Still here. Okay. Forward again (then). Life pulls you forward, even when you feel tired. I never was an adventurous person, in my own opinion; I always had big plans but only for little, mostly prosaic things. I always was and still am happiest in slow, mostly quiet places, with long, mostly quiet days. Winter suits me. When I look back on 2011, I am, I have to admit, still sort of bewildered and shaken, not sure what happened or even what to do next. I'm trying to be at peace with that gauzy, half-blurred feeling, and on certain days think it is easy to just — let it go away from me, a long piece of crinkled muslin tossed up and carried off into the wind. On other days I seem to wear it, spiraled and close, like a scarf. Maybe I'll just lose it somewhere, and not even notice. Leave it on a bench or a bus. I won't mind.

I'm not much of a planner, and never manage to remember to make any grand resolutions for a new year. My regular resolutions always seem so obvious. But I like how New Year's Eve prods you say them, even the obvious ones, out loud, along with everybody else. I want to appreciate the health, happiness, and home-life, and the people and pets, that I am so lucky to have. I want to be more generous and helpful, because I haven't felt like I've had much to offer anybody lately. I want to be a better friend and listen more when people are talking. I want my shoulders to relax because they're riding too high. I want to be outside more. I want to cook more and eat healthier. I want to have patience. I want to trust my intuition again, and have more faith in myself. I want to not always feel so left behind. I want to be more free, and even brave. I want to give more love than I do. Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. That is my wish for 2012.


Happy New Year, Paulson Family. May 2012 bring you happiness, good health and prosperity.
P.S. Thanks for the Clover/Bee photos. :-}

Anna Corrigan says: December 30, 2011 at 04:01 PM

Beautiful Post....I hope 2012 brings you peace.

This is my favorite thing I've ever read on your blog. I wish you so much happiness in the new year.

I love your resolutions so much I might just use them too.

you do know that you make and take a little bit of all the places & spaces above in this blog? that's why we visit you. happy new year to the paulsons, love and peace to you.

You really are so ahead of most of us.....may your most precious wishes come true to year.....every one of them.

[email protected]

So, so beautifully expressed. I love how you make an adventure out of your cozy, domestic life, much as my favorite British writers do. I'm seeing a book in the future, not of handwork projects but of your memoirs and prose, etc. A very happy and productive New Year to you both (pets too!).

I am speechless, you are always so genuine. Thank you. I hope you and Andy and the sweet pets in your home find both peace and joy in 2012.

Happy new year! You do express yourself so well. Thank you for sharing your year of beauty. I, too, have a long list of wishes for my new year though I try to make only one resolution to follow through on. I succeeded this past year in taking more photos of my family (not good ones, mind, but documentation nonetheless.) This coming year? To go out with friends at least twice a month. Wish me luck (and perseverance.)

what a beautiful prayer for the new year. Happy new year to you both.
John 16 v33
John 14 v27 with love Lesley xxx

Oh sweet woman. You are an instrument. A beautiful instrument of peace. I hope that you ease into this beautiful new year and find the inner peace and the courage that comes from it that you're looking for. You are not alone in your seeking.

I just want to surround you with so many hugs. I'm new to your blog after following Dooce's link over to read about what happened with Maisy, and every time I think of it I burst into tears, so I CANNOT--can. not.--imagine how you feel and how you are getting through each day. I think you are so incredibly strong and I can just sense this incredible stability and strength and centeredness in your posts, even as you feel like muslin in the wind. I am the praying type, and I pray for you daily, and just really want to let you know how amazing I think you (and your husband) are.

What a beautiful wish! Happy New Year!

(my brother lives in Portland [also a nurse] calling him now to discuss the wolf-situation)

So beautifully said...thank you and Happy New Year

I don't think you realize how much you've given to so many people, especially recently, by sharing your story and your feelings here. Happy New Year to you! The promise of a new year. Go boldly into it!

If you want those things for yourself I want them for you too but it seems to me that you already give so much love and friendship. And when your shoulders ride high remember that so many people come here to this safe place that you have created with a generous and warm heart and are thankful for your sincere and peaceful voice.

To be more brave? Please re-read your posts from this past year. You are one of the bravest women I know.

i just read this out loud to my 17 year old...i know she was listening. wise words alicia...sending love your way, as always. thanks so much for your little visit this morning. you sure did put a smile on my face...friend. xoxo

Beautiful words and thoughts from your heart. I hope our grandkids feel that way about our home, that it is a safe haven. Very sweet, Alicia! Although, Grandpa Richard does let the clock chime and play music during the nighttime. So far, no complaints. Richard grew up with his grandpa doing the same thing, so I think he loves clocks and likes to hear the cuckoo chime because it is a comfort to him. He spent a lot of time at his grandparents house! Our granddaughter Sophie stops to dance to the beat of the cuckoo clock is pretty comical! :)

What a wonderful wish for the New Year. This world would be a nicer place if all of us would try and make a resolution to do just that! :)

Blessings to you and your family for a New Year filled with much love & joy!


I wish you peace.

Happy New Year.


Your blog is where I come to find peace in my life. I look at the pictures and imagine simply plopping myself down into one of them ... usually with the pupper. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your life with us. As always, I will keep you and yours in my prayers. I have a feeling that 2012 will be very good to you.

There are few words I read that give me more than yours do Alicia. I hope that the new year brings good things back to you.

How I love to read your words. I'm ever thankful for them. Happy, happy new year to yall...

Let's hold onto our visions of our better selves throughout 2012. Best wishes for serenity and fulfilling abundance in the new year!

I so love your New Year's resolutions and want to make them my own. So often I let the "tide take me" and in 2012 I resolve to lead it myself. Thank you, Alicia, for always being so honest and true. You make me a better person.

Lots of love, Kathy

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at