Monday, January 16, 2012

Looking Back on a New Year

Perhaps because my enthusiasm for Christmas  overshadows all lesser days, or perhaps because of its dearth of carols (this and this being keen exceptions),  New Year's has never interested me very much. Most years I resolve to do or be some noble things (I don't need much prompting to make a list), but I have never really reflected on how and why I welcome a new year.

As 2011 gave way to 2012, I was sitting at my parents' dining room table, nearing the end of my final dissertation chapter. A cup of cheap black tea fueled my writing vigil, and as the neighbors began shooting fireworks, I thought--perhaps for the first time--about all the ways I have crossed from one year to another.
  • Nearly every year of my childhood, I spent New Year's in a strange city. My parents used the long Christmas break to arrange mission trips for their college students, and so I would spend the new year watching the people I most loved and admired rebuild flood-ruined homes, serve meals, or encourage dwindling churches.
  • During my junior year of college, my friend Julianna came to visit me, and we spent New Year's Eve dancing and singing with Lennon. The next day, my dear Lindsay became the first of my friends to be marry, and I sang in the wedding. 
December 31, 2004.

I was tempted to wear the tiara when I sang in Lindsay's wedding.
  •  After my first semester of graduate school, I remember sitting at a New Year's Eve dinner with Emily, Dave, and Mandy. Bewildered by all the changes that had come in 2006, the first songs I heard in 2007 comforted me:

Service and singing, wedding and working: these are good ways to begin a year. I worked hard in 2011, and it was fitting that I ended the year hard at work.  2012 has begun in a rush--a job interview during the first week of the year, a defense date set for the dissertation, a new semester of teaching, and more--and I covet your prayers as I spend the beginning of this year bringing my PhD to a good end.

 Thankful as I am for the progress I made on my dissertation, I am have resolved that my next new year's celebration will be marvelous rather than dutiful.  Perhaps a star-gazing sing-a-long in the mountains, or a midnight feast? Maybe a square dance or a train ride or a blaze of fireworks? A slumber party or a boat-ride? Or maybe, most wonderful of all, a long, bright night at home: old friends gathered, new kin at the door, you here with me.

How did you celebrate the beginning of 2012? Do you have any ideas for how I should celebrate my next New Year's?

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