a year afresh

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G.K. Chesterton

Living far away from family means most of my major holidays are spent running around to see loved ones, sleeping on different beds, living out of suitcases, and coming home exhausted (a 24-hour round-trip with a baby and a dog will do that) to a house that was left in a rush. When returning, there is much to catch up on — mail to sort, clothes to put away (is this shirt clean? Did I wear it? Should I wash it anyway because it was folded right next to these pants that are certainly not clean?), groceries to buy, leftover errands to run, and the gargantuan task of loving so many people in different places while settling back in to life here, where we are. With all that in mind, I told Aaron we had to reclaim some semblance of celebrating the holidays for ourselves and get in the groove of our own personal traditions. Since skipping extended family celebrations every year is not practical or desirable, this year we decided to try celebrating the real 12-days-of-Christmas, which starts on Christmas day and ends on January 6. This has extended our celebrating after a winter holiday season that included two trips back to Michigan. Back in Minnesota we’ve been drinking eggnog coffee, singing carols, and turning on the Christmas tree lights with gusto around here this week. It’s been good. 

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(This is not our house and certainly not how I imagined Max looking — ha!)

 

Every year I pick a phrase or stanza from a Christmas carol for our cards, and this year it was “the weary world rejoices,” from O Holy Night. There was much weariness in 2014 – moving, pregnancy, a new baby, an insanely demanding job for Aaron, many long road trips – but much rejoicing. I only think of the joy, really, but the hints of weariness are present in all things. And honestly, 2015 may have plenty of reason for weariness as well. Aaron is still gone almost all the time, we will probably need to replace some vehicles, we may have any number of family funerals, and we could open ourselves up to the possibility of weariness (or…. heartbreak…..) as Annie grows and we start thinking about more children. Who knows how God will work this year to give us new souls, new eyes, new backbones, new selves? We certainly don’t. And that’s mostly the point. So the words of St Paul to the Galatians are very timely:

Let us not grow weary in doing good, in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. – Galatians 6:9

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The end of Christmas mostly means I have to take down our tree today, so I’m enjoying one last day of “real” Christmas carols and preparing for a new year — with many unknowns and responsibilities, but much joy, I’m sure. (And with a new computer that doesn’t take 10 minutes to start, hopefully it will include more writing, too. Thanks for hanging in there, friends!)

the weary world rejoices

It’s been a year of weariness for me in many ways, and I have been very comforted by the lyrics of O Holy Night during Advent and Christmas.  Striking lines like “the weary world rejoices / for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn” are sung glibly because we hear them so often, but are still very meaningful. I love that the second verse talks about the King of Kings lying “thus in lowly manger / in all our trials born to be our friend” – Almighty God experiencing humility that he might be a friend and comforter in our trials! The last verse, beginning with “Truly He taught us to love one another,” is such a reminder of how the afflictions of this year have brought a new sense of reliance and companionship in my marriage, too. This has been one of the greatest blessings of the year.

For the 2010 holidays, we were very grateful to have a few short days with both sides of the family during Christmas. I have such a short amount of time off work each year and we have to calculate the vacation hours carefully to make the most of it. There’s always so much to decide between – beyond family visits, there is also the option for time with friends, projects on our house, and adventures with just the two of us! We had great weather for our eight-hour drive and enjoyed some long chats in the car on both ends of a very action-packed trip. Unfortunately we took almost no photos of our own, but my sister got a camera so we have lots of lovely pictures from that part of our trip. Here are a few highlights:

After this next one, my Grandma so politely said “Um, Beth… I think everyone else was trying to look good for this shot.”

Also, in that deer-in-the-woods sculpture (we all want it and tell Grandma to pass it on if she’s ever changing her decor), I just discovered a unicorn.  Who puts a unicorn in the same scene with deer?

My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice
Ps 34:2