New Year's Eve is the perfect time to throw out the old and embrace the new, argues Charlotte de Vreeze-Nauta. / © Pexels
Charlotte de Vreeze-Nauta wants us to chuck out the old and bring in the new this New Year's Eve. And no, she's not talking about awkward relatives.
I am a big fan of Monty Python’s. And when I say big, I mean huge. The Silly Olympics for instance. Brilliant. The 100-metre sprint for people with no sense of direction: they get ready at the start and once the shot is fired, they run off in different directions.
The marathon for those with a weak bladder: you see the athletes running in and out of bushes constantly.
The 50-metre free style for those who cannot swim: they drown. It is very silly and hilarious and if you have not seen it, look it up.
There are other Monty Python sketches that I love: the one in which John Cleese tries to return a ‘faulty product’ to a shop, as the parrot that he bought is dead. Or the Ministry of Silly Walks. All brilliant.
But by far my favourite production is the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I know it word for word. ‘We are the knights who say Ni’, ‘You will hit the biggest tree in the wood with a herring’, ‘Throw them the cow’ (with French accent), and so on.
I used to recite segments of the film with a friend at school and spent many a break in our playground pretending to be the monks hitting ourselves with an imaginary plank in our hands. We’d laugh our heads off and the rest of the school would think we were flipping mad.
The past week, one Monty Python sentence kept coming back to me: ‘Bring out your dead, bring out your dead’. It is a scene in the Holy Grail in which Eric Idle is towing a cart with dead bodies in some god forsaken black-death muddy hell-hole and apparently it is his job to go by each house and ask for the dead to be thrown on the cart. Not all the people being thrown onto the cart are dead – some are just being thrown onto the cart by fed-up relatives, trying to get rid of their unfortunately-not-yet-dead.
The question is why this phrase ‘Bring out your dead’ was going through my mind…
First, I thought that it might have something to do with Christmas. After all, I did have a little run-in with one of my brothers during the Christmas dinner due to which it wasn’t as pleasant as it could have been. However, at no point did I come anywhere close to wanting to throw him on the black-death body cart.
So, what was it about this sentence? Could it have been more about symbolism? The idea that with the ending of a year, we should get rid of bad things from the past year and prepare ourselves for the new. Like the Chinese do.
Their New Year celebration is centred around removing the bad and the old and welcoming the new and good. In the run-up to the New Year, the Chinese will clean their houses to get rid of dirt, rubbish and other unwanted items. Then they redecorate them with red lanterns, new flowerpots and furniture and shop foods to make delicacies.
I rather like that idea. Chuck out the old and bring in the new.
Starting with goods. Whether old clothes, kitchenware with chips out of it or broken furniture. If unrepairable or unsellable, you throw them out. You chuck the bag out of the house, wait until the rubbish disposal guys get it out of the street and you’re done. Easy. And if you are anything like me and have a chaotic brain, you’ll love the calm that comes along with throwing stuff out.
I am not sure whether the Chinese also throw out the non-tangible, but I like the idea of also getting rid of immaterial things that benefit us no longer.
For instance, caring. The older I get, the less I care. Now don’t get me wrong. I care a lot about things that truly matter. My husband, our children, my family and friends. Our health and well-being. You know, the important themes in life.
But with age also comes letting go and each year, I get to let go of more unimportant things. It’s one of the few good things about getting older. Rightly so, I must add, because wrinkles, sagging breasts and flabby upper arms – or fat curtains, as my son lovingly calls them – should give something good in return.
What other people think is a big theme. I am not yet fully where I want to be because I still give too many f*cks when I receive nasty, personal criticism, for instance on my articles. But I have decided to not take it personally anymore. From 2023 onwards, I will no longer care about those. In fact, I shall not read them anymore.
After all, the people that leave blunt remarks on my articles do not know me, and, honestly, half the time I think they haven’t even read the full article, so how can I take them seriously, let alone personally?
Wow, the thought alone is such a load off my mind. I symbolically throw my caring about criticism out of the window, onto the cart of Eric Idle. ‘Bring out your dead’, he says.
And I say, ‘Ah, yes, thank you, I will. Here you go’. And I throw a bag of personal criticism on his muddy cart and out of my life.
I highly doubt if John Cleese, Eric Idle and the rest of my Monty Python heroes ever meant anything they did on a deeper, more symbolical level, but it doesn’t matter. I thank them anyway. For the absolute genius of their sense of humour that they brought into my life and how that has now inspired me to look enthusiastically ahead at 2023 with very little ballast on my shoulders.
I can highly recommend it to all of you to consider doing before toasting on the New Year tonight. Sit down, make a list of things that burden you instead of enriching you and symbolically throw them on the cart. Bring out your dead. Hallelujah.
Have a very happy and light-hearted New Year!