New years’ resolutions can be overwhelming, if like me, you make a lengthy list and then struggle to live up to your own ideals, often failing within the first week. So this year I decided to choose one word to guide the year ahead (if it works, I’ll tell you next year).
If a word a year is not enough, how about one word a day? The glorious Oxford English Dictionary will deliver it to your inbox: sign up on the right hand panel at www.oed.com. The words tend to be seasonally appropriate. New Year’s Day offered:
handsel, v. [‘ trans. To give (a person) a gift at the beginning of the year or day, on a birthday, etc., as a token of good luck. Also more generally: to give a gift on any occasion. Formerly also in ironic use: †to present or greet with something unwelcome (obs.).’]
Here is a handsel for the last day of Christmas, on 12th Night. If, like Alice in Wonderland, you think a book isn’t worth reading unless it has pictures or conversations, this one has both. The Saint John’s Bible, hand written and illuminated by royal calligrapher Donald Jackson in his Welsh studio, is the work of a lifetime. The cosmic illustration for “in the beginning was the word” opening of John’s Gospel is based on images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The whole manuscript can be viewed online; there are enough beautiful words and images to last the whole year. Gold, frankincense and myrrh all round.