The things no one can see.

Day 1.

Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year. If you have children, then maybe the 25th of December is all that it’s cracked up to be. Is there anything quite as heartwarming as the smile and the look of wonder on a child’s face, as they open their presents? Tradition is important at this time of the year. Presents, sure they’re materialistic, but who really cares? Everyone has their own things they do every year. Bucks fizz for breakfast, bacon rolls for lunch, maybe an afternoon nap. Isn’t part of the fun of the day, running downstairs on Christmas morning and discovering the pile of presents waiting for you under the tree, especially as a child? Is it really Christmas until the tree goes up? It’s all worth it though when you switch those lights on and see those smiles again. Don’t be doing that shit before December, it’s just not right.

A lot of us don’t have work to worry about for a couple of weeks, healthy eating goes out of the window, and it becomes acceptable to start drinking at 10am on a Tuesday morning. It’s also acceptable to be sitting around in your pyjamas all day and watching Christmas movies. You’ve checked out when your favourite Christmas film is on, Elf, maybe Home Alone. Usually when you have time off from work, there’s that pressure to actually do stuff. It’s different at this time of the year, you can sit back, have a few mince pies, a glass of something and feel no regrets. Spending time with family is maybe something that you don’t do much during the year, but the festive season is a chance to put that right. Sure, some of those family members might be annoying, but Christmas gives you that chance to spend some time with them.

It’s not always easy though if you’re not around the ones that you love. Christmas can be a lonely place and time. For all of it’s tradition of being together with family, it can make those feelings of loneliness feel difficult, regardless of who you have around. Tougher if you’re on your own though, right?

You can think too much about things just now. The year is nearly over and it’s been an emotional one. You’ve lost someone close to you, a relationship has ended, perhaps you’re not where you want to be or who you want to be with. The thought of a new year can be cathartic, hopefully everything changes for you if this year has been one that you’d rather forget. Time to make resolutions?

You can be who you were or who you’ll become.

How shit is it when you’re never more alone than when you’re in a relationship? Someone who has no inclination of your feelings and oblivious to your fears. There’s a casual compassion of friends sometimes, but on one level you understand it, everyone is busy at this time of year, even if they’re not religious. Better to be riding solo?

You don’t have anyone around to spend this magical day on, so what do you do? Travel is always a good plan, take yourself away and experience something and somewhere new. Dinner won’t be easy, but you could rock up somewhere and do something different, who says that pizza at Christmas is a bad idea? Shop for gifts for yourself, always nice to have something to open, even if you already know what it is. You can do all of these things and still be lonely though.

Maybe all you need to do is rejoice and reflect. Maybe things haven’t gone your way. Maybe you’re still grieving for everyone that you’ve lost in the last twelve months. It’s okay not to be immerged in the spirit of this time of year as long as you’re okay. It’s okay to remember one thing.

If it all goes wrong, just hold on.

@TheSamMcLeod

#YouMeMusicLifeResolutions

I search for the resolution.

Frank Ra, author of the new year’s resolution book “A course in happiness” says that “Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer support makes a difference in success rate with new year’s resolutions”.

News to me, I’ve never made resolutions in my life at this time of year. Until today. This year, I’ve made two resolutions that I’ll make sure that I keep. I want to be one of those 8% of people who achieve their new year goals.

Today, I placed £10 into an online betting account and made 10 £1 bets. My aim is to take the winnings from today, large or small and to make another bet or bets tomorrow with whatever winnings are in the account. I’ll then look to make a bet or bets during every day of 2014 so that on December 31st, I’ll then be able to donate what I hope is a sizeable amount to charity.

The other resolution I’ve made is a far more personal one. A friend recently introduced me to the website, 1secondeveryday.com. The basic premise of the project is, “What if you could remember something from every day of your life?”.  It doesn’t seem like one second is enough to remember much, but you’d be surprised what one second of visual and audio information can bring back to your memory. You record something in your life every day and then the app lets you stitch these together to make a video of your week, your month, your year or your life.

I’d do well to be able to remember to do this every day for the rest of my life but I really want to make this happen in 2014. Personally, it’ll be one of the biggest years of my life so I’d like to sit back at the end of the year and look back on the highlights.

Hopefully it’ll be six minutes and five seconds of highlights, fingers crossed.

So this is the new year.

Here we are.

For some of us, we are on the 365th and final day of the year. Some of us have already or are currently enjoying the celebrations as midnight has come and gone depending on our respective locations.

I know for some people the 31st of December is just another day. It’s always been a personal favourite of mine as I think about all the exciting things to come in the year ahead. Not once does the possibility of everything not going completely to plan enter my head, this certainly can’t be put down to youthful naivety!

I’ve only ever experienced the clock chiming midnight on December 31st in three different countries, Scotland, Italy and the USA. All three countries have very contrasting traditions for this most special night.

In Italy, it’s tradition to wear red underwear to ring in luck for the year ahead! This goes for men and women!

Four years ago tonight, my girlfriend at the time and I were sat in a little restaurant in Venice called Bacaro Jazz, enjoying our meal before heading to Piazza San Marco to join in the celebrations. Those who know the restaurant know that it is also encouraged for female diners to donate their bra which is then pinned to the ceiling. Cue the scenes as midnight approached when pretty much every single women in the place undid their bra, red of course, and handed it to a beaming barman to hang up. Let’s face it, all of us men would have had the smile he had on his face at that point!

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Two years ago tonight, we were in New York. Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the dropping of the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City. At 11:59 pm, thousands gather to watch the ball make its one minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight.

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It was a great night, although rather bizarre to watch Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Pitbull perform in the flesh. I’m convinced not one of them sang live!

And to Scotland. Whether it’s been quiet nights in watching Scotch and Wry and Only An Excuse or street parties in which ever city I’ve been, each one has been memorable for it’s own reasons.

Tonight will be a quiet one, reflecting on the year just gone and the twelve months that are ahead. 2013 has been a year of change, job, house, relationship status, apparently the three most stressful changes in life. Roll on 2014!

I’ve been fortunate to meet some incredible people this year whether through work, play, even meets that have been instigated by social media.

Things change, some important people to me and a lot of others have passed away. Some new additions to my family and friends have entered the world and I look forward to those boys and girls growing up.

To everyone that has met me, spent time with me or interacted with me in one way or another, I hope that 2014 brings you every happiness and success that you deserve.

Enjoy the celebrations tonight, I’m excited to see what 2014 brings for all of us.

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr.