New Year’s Eve Ritual

(500 words)
Boxes, special boxes, lie at the bottom of my locked filing cabinet. Deposited there are letters and cards collected throughout my life. From grandparents, school friends, parents, lovers, wives, children, more lovers, more children… Since the invention of e-mail though, they’ve been few and far between.
Tonight it’s New Year’s Eve 2026 and there’s a very special box of letters I want to look at. But first, there’s something I have to do – The Ritual.
I go to my trusted computer and start. I’m alone in the house. My partner, Suzanne is at her parents, the kids are grown up, probably remonstrating with their own kids about coming home at a ‘sensible’ hour. As if!
I begin to type. Dear – . I leave the name blank for now, anticipating the thrill of typing it in. ‘I hope you are well and I wonder how this will find you. You were talking about moving to a villa in Portugal. Are you still planning to live there? Did you marry Fiona? Is your mother still alive?’ Questions surge into my mind.
I take a swig of cider, Weston’s Vintage Cider 2025, 8.2% alcohol. Three bottles for a fiver at Tesco, the same as it’s been for the last ten years! I swill the amber liquid around my tongue and savour grass, twigs, toffee, leaves, and moonlit apples.
For the next two hours, I sit writing and drinking cider. About what I’ve been doing myself for the last year, my failing health, my increasing wealth and my disastrous love life. Then about my goals and aspirations. Maybe they’ll be interested? Do that trek up Kilimanjaro, play a recital on the piano, and maybe get that novel published. The one that’s been rejected more times than I care to think about. But hey! What about Stephen King, Agatha Christie and J K Rowling?
Finally, it’s finished. 11.30 p.m., half an hour before ‘witching hour.’ How pleased I am to sit ‘in here’, writing, rather than ‘out there’, getting ‘wrecked’ and singing Auld Lang Syne with strangers!
I fill in the recipient, print my letter, sign and address it, and then seal it up with tape. Finally, I delete the document and empty the trash folder. That completes the ritual!
I go down to the fridge and take out a bottle of Chardonnay. I pour a large glassful of lemon-coloured nectar, then go back upstairs to my ‘special box’. It contains ten long, white, thick envelopes, all with the same handwriting. I slot the one I have just written in at the back and take out the one at the front. It’s dated 2016, and labelled ‘to be opened 31st December 2026’.
The cycle is finally complete! I open it, trembling with anticipation. I begin to read, my eyes misting as I do so. Throughout the last ten long, eventful years, of life, death, joy and heartbreak, it has been waiting patiently in this box for me, though I now have no memory of ever having written it.
Please note: This post was copied and republished on New Year’s Eve 2017/2018. If you’d like to read the preamble and/or the comments please click HERE.

Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories

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24 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve Ritual

  1. I’ve been going through your website, and you, sir, have a real gift for storytelling. I’m totally following you.
    This one was really sweet- I’ve thought about creating a time capsule a lot of times, but I never seem to get it done. I wish you all the luck in the world for the success of your book.

    1. Hello Anisha, thanks so much for your kind compliment! And for the ‘follow’ too. I hope you’ll enjoy future stories.
      With regard to this one, as I mentioned in replies below, it’s basically a true story and I now have one ‘long white sealed envelope’ secreted away.
      I’d definitely recommend it. I’m now thinking about writing the next one on in just four and a half months and want to make sure a couple of projects aren’t put off any longer. I don’t want a ‘bad report’!
      Anyway, at least I’ll be able to write that I published a couple of books, something I’d NEVER have imagined! And thank you for your good wishes on my story collection too.
      It’s perfect for reading in odd minutes here and there, I just need the world to know about it! Simon. x

  2. I love this idea; that is so cool that you do this. When I was around twelve or thirteen I wrote a letter to myself that I wanted to open on my eighteenth birthday. I gave it to my mom to hold onto until then, so that I wouldn’t be tempted to open it before the big day. On my eighteenth birthday I asked my mom for the letter, so excited to see what I had been thinking back then, and she told me she had forgotten about it and didn’t know what she had done with it. I was devastated! (We did find it a couple years later, and it was hilarious!)

    Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    1. Hi Becca, I’m glad you liked the story and thank you so much for sharing your own experience, especially over such formative years, that is really interesting! I’d heard of the general idea but not of anyone actually doing it before. Nor on such a long term or regular basis as in the story, that was something that just came to me around Christmas time, and I thought New Year’s Eve would be perfect! Although it seems a long time to wait, it’s only actually a year before you take action again, and I think we’d all like to write a better ‘report’ the next time!

      It’d be great if you wrote a post about your experience, I would love to read it!

            1. Hello Becca, that is a great post! I left a comment on your blog and I recommend everyone reading this to check out your link! Also, I’m really impressed by how quickly you got such a polished post together!

  3. You have a gift for writing….it drew me right in and I felt that I was right there with you looking in through a magnifying glass -Bruce

    1. Hi Bruce, thanks so much for your kind remarks. In fact I found this particular story pretty easy to do. I just wrote down what I actually did, with a bit of artistic license thrown in at the beginning!

  4. I really liked how you can engage a reader with your writing. This was interesting to read.. And quite a beautiful idea, actually. I now feel like doing the ritual. :p

    1. Hi Liz, thanks so much for your comment. As I replied to a comment on Community Pool, I wish I’d thought of it 10 years ago!! I found it very cathartic and it has also focused my mind much more on what I want to achieve over the coming year. I think you should definitely give it a go 😀

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