On Fondue and Freedom – New Year’s 2017


I love the New Year. The blank slate. The re-set. The Beginning.

(The Beginning of what, you ask? Of whatever you want, my dear, that’s the beauty of it.)

Thanks to the many years spent working nights on holidays, we hold the actual date of our New Year celebration loosely, but make it a point to celebrate with cheese fondue and champagne and talk of the past and talk of the future. House projects, personal goals, family intentions. I think about my goals for weeks. Of course, I write it all down. I love looking back over what we actually did (Chris, we DID stuff on our list … LOOK!) and for the Un-done’s, I have no problem pushing them onto the coming year or crossing it off completely. (Let’s not get crazy, we can’t do it all.)

This year? The fondue and champagne were there, but we were tired. I know we’re supposed to be over jet-lag but traveling across the world and even though she might be almost three, it felt like New-baby-level tired.

We were not in top form to celebrate the New Year.

Have you heard of this idea of taking some time at the end of the year to reflect and pray and come up with a Word which will be a theme word for your year? It’s been on my mind, intriguing me. In my life, any Words which have defined or focused me have not been bound to calendar years. Nor have they been words I’ve decided on. My words are more the seasonal, passive types. Snow birds of the literary sort.

But somewhere around October of this past year, the word Freedom kept popping into my head, from the verse in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” I kept thinking, if Freedom would be my word, I will start the year with a manifesto about what Freedom means to me:

  • Freedom from self-imposed or “I think they want me to” expectations
  • Freedom from too much activity
  • Freedom from the fear of not having enough (aka. Freedom to get rid of stuff)
  • Freedom from being on my phone all the time
  • Freedom from the fear I have about what will happen under our president-elect
  • Freedom to say No
  • Freedom to say Yes
  • Freedom to enjoy my children
  • Freedom to get away from my children

… and so on.


But, besides this list that I made just now, I didn’t make my lengthy year-long guidebook manifesto. It just didn’t happen. And despite my freedom from self-imposed expectations, as bullet-pointed above, I really am disappointed that I didn’t enter into this New Year with a guns-blazing plan for how to make 2017 the best.year.ever.

I mean … 2016 was pretty great. You gotta ride the wave, Sonya.

As a part of the writing team on Coffee+Crumbs, I was asked to write a lesson (!!I KNOW!!) for their course: The Year of Creativity. I’m honored to be a part of this, but I’m even more excited about being able to go through it myself. (Any of you writer/photogs/artist friends who want to focus on creativity in the coming year, you should check it out.)

And even though it’s self-guided, and even-though I have a new little one at home, my New Year/Fresh Start-loving self wanted to be intentional about starting the course after asking (and answering) — What are my creative goals for this year?

When I think of my creative goals and Words for the year, and general plans for 2017 — I don’t know where to start, simply because 2016 was, in many respects, a whirlwind of steady work and unexpected blessings. From being asked to speak for some women at church (which I loved) to facilitating a Bible study, to really enjoying writing here, to being published on two of my dream sites, then later in the year — being asked to be a part of Coffee+Crumbs (one of the dream sites) … And meanwhile, our adoption paperwork was completed mid-year, our referral came in September, then the fundraising which met our needs and then some (allowing our two oldest children to come to China with us), to being home for Christmas with our new daughter. It’s been a lot. A good lot. But still, a lot. (But don’t all of us have almost every year filled with A LOT?)


I listened to a podcast yesterday where the host said (and I’m really paraphrasing here) that she can tell when her life is heading a bit out of control when her key things (which she typically makes part of her day) start to slip. They are like trigger warnings for her to sense the need for re-evaluation. For some, Key Things are home cooked meals. For others it’s exercise, or drinking water, or being nice. I know people who would never let getting a work out in slip. I, on the other hand, for most of this entire last year, let pretty much everything I just mentioned slip. Coffee and funny texts between friends were the only things I didn’t let slip 2016.


In the past week, I’ve had text after text (thank you for not calling, because I’d never answer) asking me: How are you?

My answer in a nutshell: We are back safely from China with our daughter. We had an amazing trip. The big kids did great. Vivienne did great. We enjoyed a quiet Christmas and New Years. The kids are heading back to school and ready-or-not we are slowly settling into real life. China seems like a dream at this point.

But there are many texts which ask: How are you — really? 

For the most part, “Overall, she’s going great and we’re doing great. We are adjusting” covers it.

Especially here, I don’t want to write much about what we’re going through now, because I feel like I completely lack perspective, as I did when I was adjusting to life with a newborn and told everyone how hard it was, later realizing how amazing newborn babies are. It’s been so much better than I expected, yet there are moments of intense emotions which make it hard to be objective.

The podcast host, Sally Clarkson, also encouraged us moms who find themselves … oh, I don’t know … just feeling a bit out of sorts at the New Year, to simply give all of that uncertainty, unsettledness, concerns of the moment, and hope for the day ahead to God. Sometimes naming it can make the emotions attached feel less ominous. And that honesty with God builds our relationship and trust and places our hope in Him, instead of our (my) own I Got This New Year Because, LOOK at my awesome resolution list! efforts.


I think I’m going to add:

  • Freedom to give our family time to adjust and
  • Freedom to get my Key Things back where they belong

to my mini-manifesto.


Those look an awful lot like resolutions, don’t they?




If you’re interested in pictures and details of our China trip, I will be posting about our travels on my Facebook page in the coming days, ahem, week(s). (Note to self, add: freedom from deadlines… )


Sonya Spillmann

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