The transition in focus and tone from Christmas to New Years never fails to startle and bother me. For at least a month, maybe two months, leading to Christmas, people’s thoughts focus on gifts for friends and loved ones, re-connecting with people we haven’t seen for awhile, and the warmth, joy, and sheer wonder of Christmas time. This is true even for non-religious people. For those of us who believe the babe in the manger became our risen Savior, it is an even more joyous time. It’s the spirit of Christmas that Charles Dickens’ immortal character, Ebenezer Scrooge, learned about in time to make a difference in his life and the lives of others.
Then it happens. Christmas is over. Boom. Just like that the spirit of Christmas is set aside in a mad rush to see how many spirits one can drink and still stand up. Don’t get me wrong. I like New Years. I like resolutions, football games, parades, and more family, friends, food, and fellowship. I don’t like the New Year’s Day television focus on current celebrities, canned conversation, and cheap cognac. After the eternal verities and moving traditions of Christmas, New Years all seems so shallow. Because for the most part, it is—at least “as portrayed on TV” or at your local New Years Eve party.
I have found a few antidotes. I watch the news, old movies, parades, and football games and otherwise, I leave the television off. Reading the books I got for Christmas, visiting with house guests or being a guest at someone else’s house, writing, or catching up on some project around the house is far more rewarding.
On Christmas Eve in our home we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and Matthew 2, in that order. On New Years Eve or New Years Day, we sometimes share “New Years Resolutions.” I like the idea of resolutions. It’s an opportunity to set new goals, establish new directions, or reinforce old but important values in our lives. It’s a chance to commune with the Lord and discern what his Spirit might want us to do differently so that we may better serve him.
Resolutions are a healthy exercise, especially if one of your resolutions is to commit yourself to more healthy exercise. Establishing New Years Resolutions is healthy because it’s forward-looking, it’s an act of hope and promise, it’s an expressed desire to achieve more, contribute more, be a better person, or be what your potential suggests you can be. Setting resolutions is a creative act that I think mirrors our divine creation and our Creator. Establishing New Years Resolutions can be, or at least should be, about becoming more of what God intended us to be.
So I suggest to you that you join me this New Years in focusing upon the Spirit rather than spirits and in extending the Christmas spirit into 2006. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
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