How to Prepare for the New Year

First, Darling, let’s remember the wise words of Kenneth Grahame:

no animal, according to the rules of animal etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter

(and yes, Darling, you count as an animal and while you are at it, why don’t you re-read the whole The Wind in the Willows – such the perfect book for January. More book ideas below. Keep the major Russians, Middlemarch, classical French and [God Forbid!] depressing northern European mysteries for after you have seen a crocus, lilac, snowdrop or peony.)

Now, that we have the right frame of mind Darling, shall we share secrets? Were you foolish enough to make New Year’s Resolutions last year? Aha! Now, do you remember how they all went flying out the window by March? This is why Etiquette Central always recommends NO RESOLUTIONS. Read your Tosha Silver and go with the flow.

Go with flow does not mean do nothing. It’s means re-tool, re-group, re-calibrate as needed. Take me as a fabulous example. I should be talking how to find the best cafes on the Amalfi coast, wear kitten heels on icy streets, decorate with fake leopard skin and make Ritz-Paris Sidecars! I should be castigating Fortnum and Mason about their wholly inadequate, anemic peppermint bark (which, given the few wisps of peppermint, lost and forlorn, on the chocolate base should be renamed “Peppermint Bark for those afraid of Peppermint”).

But etiquette is like baby scissors – the goal is to stop you from hurting yourself. So I am not making a Ritz-Paris Serendipity (or Nautilus!), I am encouraging you to survive as best you can until spring and vaccines bring back our cheer.

I saw one brave soul’s Instagram comment: I don’t care how long the lock-down lasts, I am not organizing my spice drawer. I applaud the attitude, but really Darling – nothing says “New Year” better than tossing out something that doesn’t fit you anymore (shoes, romantic partner, coffee table, kombucha kit) and trying something new, anything. Start small. Get a plant. Make a lasagna. Buy both kinds of screwdrivers and an awl. Be a little more self-reliant. Sleep more.

For this January – our mantra is self-preservation and kindness to others. If that’s too much, stick with a mug, champagne flute, coconut shell or sippy cup of something delicious and one of these:

  • Persuasion
  • Lolly Willows
  • The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
  • Does This Church Make Me Look Fat
  • Here if You Need Me
  •  anything by L. M. Montgomery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jennifer Crusie, George MacDonald Fraser or Louisa May Alcott