My husband and I did something very different last night for New Year's Eve (well, for us anyway!): we stayed at home, and did.....virtually nothing!
At first, I thought maybe it was a sign that we were getting older. Actually, we've had a couple of sick kids in the house this week, and between all of us just needing to "kick back" and relax, we really didn't need to spend any money on hosting or attending a big New Year's celebration. To me, last night turned out to be a special Blessing.
All the boys were home for dinner last night, and we shared a simple but delicious meal of home-made turkey and rice soup, and fresh bread. I then attended Mass at our local parish in celebration of the "Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God," celebrated on January 1st of each year. While this particular feast day in the Catholic church holds its own special importance and meaning to us as Catholics, last night's Mass and the homily our pastor shared with us was particularly poignant at the start of this new year, and new decade. I couldn't help but notice how full the church was last night, and I could tell by looking at the sea of faces in the congregation (I lead music as a Cantor) that Father's message on this New Year's Eve was touching everyone... the sense of hope and anticipation was definitely palpable.
I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember the last time I attended Mass on New Year's Eve. My youngest son attended the service with me last night, and I mentioned to him as we were leaving that "it just felt - right." My son agreed, and we discussed how appropriate it was to begin the new year in that spirit of peace, reflection, and hope.
Through the remainder of the evening as we quietly "chilled" together in front of the television, I began to recognize the ways we celebrate, and then understand why we celebrate the coming of a new year. Yes, it's the beginning of another start, another chance.....a "do-over." But more importantly, I believe it's because we're grateful for the renewed gift of hope.
As I watched several television hosts interview various celebrities and members of the public within their live audiences, I noted that many of them made reflections on the many difficulties and hardships our country (and the world) continued to experience in 2009. While it seems that everyone had some sort of comment on either the economy, the war, health care concerns or the relations of our world in general, it occurred to me that everyone was also happy. Not dwelling on the past, not dwelling on the negatives, not dwelling on all the things that have gone "wrong..." but hopeful for what can be.
Hope. Without dreams and visions of greater possibilities we are lost - stuck in an endless loop of treading water, doing the same things the same way. Without hope and the ability to dream, the human race would never accomplish, achieve, or improve. The word "future" would not be in our vocabularies, for what would we have to look forward to?
Like many of you, throughout 2009 our family experienced much: heartaches, health-scares, tragedies, financial woes. Yet in between these "speed-bumps" we've also experienced the gift of new friendships, strengthened or re-kindled relationships, lessons learned, accomplishments made and personal victories won. I can honestly say (even though it is in hind-sight!) that I wouldn't change a thing....well, maybe the financial part! But we've continued to grow, even through the "bad" stuff, and I know deep within that 2010 will hold just as much, if not more, of those same gifts for each and every one of us.
A New Year is a time to celebrate, and look forward. And when mankind looks toward the future together - in a spirit of hope - our dreams and desires, even if held only briefly, are the same. Basically, we all want the same things - worldwide, black or white, male or female, young or old: to love and be loved, health, shelter and safety, peace in our future and our children's future. Anything else (in my opinion) is icing on the cake.
"The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started."
- Norman Cousins (American Essayist and Editor)
As you begin your New Year, may you and yours look toward the future with great expectation and Joy, and may you be Blessed with hope in all you attempt or undertake.
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
Pay it forward - spread a smile!
Clip-art courtesy of Google images.