Sled on, Kitty
The New Year's metaphor that keeps on giving
About 7-8 years ago, my aunt shared with me an image (shown below) of a vintage New Year’s postcard featuring a grey tabby kitten, wearing a red bow for a collar, riding a sled with an attached sail. The words “Bonne année” - French for “happy new year” - appear below the image.
I have no idea of the significance of a kitten on a sled - and with a sail, no less. Is this French humor that je ne comprends pas? Or is this a whimsical greeting created by an illustrator who hoped to offer a bit of levity at what is, more often than not, a more contemplative, reflective time of year?
When I originally shared this image on my Facebook profile at the end of 2015, I joked that “Bonne Année” loosely translates to “may you sail through 2016 like a kitten on a sled.” For those of us in the USA, we all know how that year turned out. But I still love to share that image and ascribe some significance to it, in the form of extended (and often mixed) metaphors.
What I wrote on December 31, 2020:
Kitty certainly had a lot of uphill sledding, hit many icy patches and got stuck in dry spots in 2020. An all-terrain vehicle was needed instead of a sled. Here's to a new year where we polish those sled runners, hoist a fresh sail, and glide through it all.
What I wrote on December 31, 2021:
Kitty didn't fare much better in 2021. The sled got broken down for kindling and rebuilding was a necessity, but those pesky supply chain issues and labor shortages dragged out the process.
We gotta keep sailing and sledding, my friends. Crank up the yacht rock and get to work on making the most of what we've got - and when we really stop to look at what we have, it's so much more than what we originally thought. There's love, laughter, friendship, hope, resilience and tenacity. It's all around us when we open our eyes, soften our hearts and reach out our hands.
If your sled gets stuck - as they often do regardless of whether there's a pandemic, political upheaval, global climate crises or civil unrest- I'll give you a push, and I know you'll do the same for me.
We got this.
At the end of 2022, I’m once again thinking about that kitten, and that sled.
I am grateful for all those who helped push my sled when it got stuck this year, and who offered fresh sails to hoist.
I think about all the serendipitous moments that acted as tradewinds for my sled, especially during the last six months of the year, when I felt adrift.
I think about my personal and professional goals for 2023, and how I’m going to reach them. I’ll need to ensure everything is ready for this journey. Are the sled runners smooth and sturdy? Is the sail properly hung? Is the kitten fed and healthy? And if I run into any issues as I move forward, will I be wise enough to slow down, recalibrate, check my gauges?
Writing more essays & short pieces like this one will be part of that journey. It’s taken me a long time to accept that my most authentic and vulnerable stories are worthy of sharing. But when I do share those stories, I’m allowing others to see my challenges in keeping my sled moving forward - and I’m offering an opportunity to connect over shared experiences. Because when it comes right down to it, we all need help with our sleds, don’t we?
Whatever lies ahead for you in 2023, dear reader, I wish you smooth sailing and sledding, and know that if and when you need it, I’m ready to give you a push.