by Ken Potts
I don’t know all the anthropological, sociological, or practical reasons for dividing days into months and months into years. But beginning (or is it ending) each year with a holiday is a good idea. Actually, December 31, and January 1, are really not a whole lot different from any of the other days in the year. But we will make them special. We will throw a party or go to one, plan an intimate dinner, or settle in by ourselves for a breather. Some of us perhaps will feel a bit out‑of‑sorts ‑ sad, lonely, uneasy. For others of us there is a sense of celebration to our activities.
You know, I’ve never really been sure what’s so special about New Year’s. What are we celebrating? Are we just plain surprised that the world has managed to survive yet one more year living on the brink of disaster? Or are we rejoicing that we have made it through yet another three hundred and sixty‑five days of the stress of job, family, housework, etc.? There is certainly a welcome sense of relief when we put behind us a year marred by death, divorce, unemployment, or major illness. Likewise we may feel a special gratitude for a year of accomplishment and growth. Whatever our feelings ‑surprise, rejoicing, relief, gratitude ‑ we do experience a sense of ending.
A wise person once observed “all good things come to an end.” Fortunately, most bad things do, too. One of the real values of New Year’s, then, is its place in our lives as an ending ‑ for the both the good and the bad. We may be ending the year we had surgery, or lost our job, or got divorced. Or perhaps we are bringing to a close the year we finished school, changed careers, or started a family. What is important is that we see a specific period in our life coming to a close. People need such endings. We want to feel finished, able to put something behind us. We try to make peace with the past. Endings provide the foundation on which to build beginnings. For New Year’s is also a time to celebrate new possibilities. We begin again our struggle to become all that God created us to be. We renew our commitment to change, to grow, to move beyond past failures and successes.
Both the endings and beginnings in our New Year’s observance are important in our lives. They are like a road map. They signify for us the miles we’ve traveled, the difficult roads we’ve encountered, the pleasant or rewarding journeys we’ve completed. They also set out for us the miles yet to go, the potential hazards ahead, side trips we hope to make and the sights we plan to see. There are also dangers in our New Year’s celebration. We often fail to adequately learn from our past successes and failures, and then often repeat them. Likewise we may fail to intentionally plan for the year ahead.
You know, if we didn’t have our New Year’s celebration of endings and beginnings, we’d probably have to invent one. Let’s use our last day of 2017 to consider what we can learn from another year’s experience. And let’s use our first day of 2018 to plan how we can continue to grow and develop as persons. Happy New Year.
SamaraCare helps people achieve their greatest potential by being compassionate and spirit-led counselors, consultants and advocates.