New Year's Eve

Here we are on the last day of the year, the last day of the decade. The celebration of the new year comes in the midst of the celebration of Christmas . New Year’s Eve is the seventh day of Christmas. It seems appropriate to look back and to look forward as the year makes its transition. Somehow reaching the third decade of the 21st Century seems like an amazing thing to me. It is not that I didn’t expect to live this long. I did. I expect that I’ll see more decades ahead. Perhaps there is something in the fact that my parents were born in the twenties of the last century. Neither of them lived that long, but the centennial of their births seems like a significant time.

The 2010’s were a significant decade for our family. It was the decade of the deaths of my mother and Susan’s father. It was the decade of the births of all of our grandchildren. It was the first decade of our daughter’s marriage. The list of things that happened int he last decade is significant for us personally. Perhaps, however, that is true of every decade. When I look back, I can name significant events that have been a part of each decade of my life.

In some ways for me reaching the 20’s of the century is a kind of realization that the century is mature. In the early years of the 2000’s it seemed a bit like a novelty. We weren’t used to writing the year beginning with a 2. We thought of ourselves as 20th century folk and it took a while to think in 21st century terms. And when I think of my own life, the decade of my twenties was significant. In my twenties I married, completed my college and graduate degrees, became a father, and launched my career. A lot happened in my life in those years.

It is traditional to make resolutions at this time of the year. To look back and discover the areas of life where change is desired and to make plans to create the change that is required. I’ve never been much for resolutions, though I respect the process of evaluating oneself honestly and daring to make changes. In a way this particular year doesn’t seem to need resolutions. Big changes are coming for me personally and I know that flexibility and adaptation will be required just to survive. We have enjoyed changes in the past and we’ve always found a certain joy in encountering the unknown, so there is an eagerness to our anticipation that feels right.

There is also anxiety about the future. There is enough uncertainty that it is hard to imagine how I will feel when I sit down to write my final journal entry of 2020. Right now it seems like there will be a significant journey before that day comes. I suspect that I’ll be sitting at the same desk, but that desk will have been moved to a new home. My relationship with my career will have changed significantly. I continue to struggle with the concept of retirement, and I know that there is plenty of meaningful work that doesn’t involve the exchange for a paycheck, but that idea is so different from the way I have lived, that I wonder a bit how things will work out.

So I guess you could describe me as a bit nervous about the year that is to come. I guess, however, that I should save that nervousness for tomorrow. Today is the last day of the year and it is a good day to look back and reflect on the year that is ending. The writer Dave Berry’s year-end reflection, published in the Washington Post, isn’t that positive. “Impeachment. Brexit. Greenland. Can we say anything good about his year? Nah.” He’s a humor writer and he writes to create and impact and a reaction, but I have to disagree with him. 2019 was the year of the birth of our youngest grandson. For that reason alone, I cannot say it was a year to forget. 2019 was the year of a major health scare in our family that ended with very good results. We are enjoying a new commitment to fitness and exercise and start every day with a renewed sense of gratitude for life and health and each other. 2019 was a year of emerging leadership in the church. Some of the tasks that I have done myself for decades have been assumed by others. A few new leaders have emerged.

Each year is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. Each has its own grief and its own celebrations. It seems quite natural that the season of Christmas should surround the ending of one year and the start of another. The occasions fit together in my mind.

Monday is my usual day for grocery shopping, so I went yesterday. The stores weren’t as crowded as they had been the week before. People were not buying as many groceries. They seemed to be a bit less hassled by the lines and the general crowdedness of the store. Still, you could tell that people were shopping for another week of celebration. There were plenty of smiles and a bit of understanding when someone else was in the way. Several of us were wandering around the store with a bit of confusion, looking for items that aren’t on our regular lists. For me it was cranberry sauce. We don’t buy it that often, and we didn’t need it for our Christmas dinner as it was provided by someone else, but we’ve got a turkey for New Year’s and cranberries seem like a good touch. I finally found them, wondering if the store makes a practice of changing the location every year just to keep us wandering - perhaps we’ll make an impulse purchase if we walk around the store long enough. Cranberries are too insignificant to make the store’s directory of items. But I found them. And our pantry is restocked with the supplies we need for this week.

I won’t be staying up until midnight tonight. I trust the new year to come in without my assistance. We’ll probably celebrate on Eastern Standard Time and then go to bed. I hope your celebrations are joyful and your reflections meaningful. Happy New Year’s Eve!

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!

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