This will be my fourth year in a row picking a word of the year. I added the ‘in a row’ part because I am not always known for consistency. But look, here I am showing up to share my word of the year in 2021 so maybe there is hope for me yet.
In 2018 my word was TEA. We were just back from England and I was inspired to make tea time a way of life instead of just an occasional luxury. It worked and it got my kids into making tea for themselves more often as they saw me enjoying tea in the afternoon before the hustle and bustle of getting dinner started.
In 2019 my word was CHOPSTICKS. That is a weird one, I know, but I chose it to be a trigger for when I felt like I was failing. I told myself that learning to blog and stepping into the life of being a writer would be messy and hard to figure out at times so I would give myself the grace to learn a new thing just like I would as I was trying to learn to eat with chopsticks. It takes time and practice to learn a new thing.
In 2020 my word was LETTERS because I was craving time away from the screen and wanting more of the real world and the way things used to be. Now that we have all lived through 2020 it was like a prophecy. . . right? I wanted to find the quiet to write more letters and read the letters people wrote a long time ago. That did not really happen. In fact, I still haven’t written my new years update letter. I’ll do that as soon as I finish this post. I promise.
So what is in my heart for 2021?
I still want more interaction with what I have been calling the real world. I wrote about it as we started going on family camping trips. I’ve been talking about this on social media a lot lately. My garden is part of this urge, desire, instinct, call it what you will. I am fed up with modern life and the lies our blue screen shows us all day every day.
So when I tried to come up with a word that would orient me in the right direction and trigger 12 months’ worth of good work I just kept thinking about home. My home, where my people gather and are sheltered before they go out into the world every day. The home was important in 2020 but I think it is going to be even more important in 2021. I want my home to be a comfortable refuge from the chaos of the world right now.
With my home in full focus, my word for 2021 is TEND. It is a word that has many meanings and as I looked into them I was overwhelmed with how appropriate this word was for my life right now.
The simplest definition
verb: to move, direct, or develop one’s course in a particular direction
That is exactly what is already happening as I move my family in a direction that interacts with real things that can be touched, seen, felt. For example, lately, I tend to buy fruit and veg and make our snacks from scratch to get away from the poison of fake food that is extruded onto belts in factories.
The next definitions go even deeper
verb: to pay attention: to apply oneself: to act as an attendant
to SERVE, to LISTEN, to WAIT
I am not even kidding that I gave a lecture to my kids about throwing their orange peels away and I said this year the word I will be saying over and over again is attention. We are going to pay attention to details around here, like throwing our trash away. So when I came to this definition I had to laugh to myself. Here is confirmation that this is the right direction for 2021.
The third definition is my clear direction
You might think we are done with definitions but as we come to the third set of definitions for this little word we come to the way I was thinking of using it from the beginning. This definition is at the core of how I feel about being a mom and the importance of this job, but I’ll be honest, I am so tired. I have needed to commit to a revival of this main principle as I take the job of creating a refuge in my home seriously.
verb: to apply oneself to the care of watch over: to have or take charge of as a caretaker or overseer: to manage the operation of
to CULTIVATE, to FOSTER, to MIND
This is what I do with my garden. I plan and purchase exactly the seeds I want and then take care to propagate and plant them so that there will be fruit, eventually. A lot of work goes into a garden for a harvest on an unknown day. Gardening makes me pretty hopeful about the future. I want that same hope to be a reality in my home and felt by the people I love. I have a feeling that this year will be full of hard work, the work of waiting, serving, listening, and cultivating for a harvest in years to come.
In 2021 I will tend things here at home, moving away from what is fake and toward what is real. It will require a kind of consistency that I have always but too busy to cultivate, but maybe 2021 will be my year for slowing down and giving attention to the small things that make all the difference in the world. Will you join me?