Almost the end of January seems like a strange time to be celebrating the New Year, but I confess I don't always feel excited about the New Year.
As the New Year approaches, I always feel like Charlie Brown as he was talking to Linus about preparing for Christmas, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I am supposed to feel.” That is how I feel about facing a new year.
As I packed up the Christmas ornaments this year, I finally realized why I feel this way. One thing I always hate to put away is the little plastic nativity my great grandmother, Momma Ruth, gave me when I was a little girl. It's a tiny thing I can hold in my hand, but that little plastic scene with the little plastic Jesus makes me smile. After all, the nativity, and the entire Christmas season is all about waiting, waiting for the birthday of Christ, waiting for Santa, waiting for guests.... it's all excitement and anticipation. I guess that explains the let down feeling when it’s time to put it all away.
I wanted to hold onto that feeling, hold onto the anticipation and wonder at what is to come. Now it is all over, all put away. Christmas is over and now the New Year looms ahead, full of uncertainty: my parents' declining health, my kids growing up, the world itself changing too fast. As I looked at my photo of that little plastic nativity, I realized I've been looking at it all wrong.
That little plastic Jesus was not made to leave the manger. That little scene isn’t made to change. Thankfully, the real Jesus grew up and saved the world. Thankfully, time didn’t stand still then and it doesn't stand still now.
As time moves on, there is nothing I can do to stop it. I can; however, hold onto that feeling of anticipation every day and see the New Year as a beginning rather than an end. I have faith in that grown up Jesus I believe in, and faith in the world that everything will work out right. I have much to be thankful for and excited about this year, so welcome 2017!