An interesting paradigm has shifted for me.
As a child, the beginning of the holiday season was the most exciting time of the year. Once the long days of summer reached their twilight and the coolness of fall swept over the earth, a change in the air took place. The days were part of an unbearable countdown; from Thanksgiving, Christmas seemed a million miles away. Each holiday is special in its own way, but Christmas itself was the climax of the entire season, the day that dominated our thoughts and feelings for what seemed like the entire latter half of the year. But then, just as our excitement dwindled down into exhaustion, the New Year came.
Christmas is the king of the holidays, while New Year’s seems like an afterthought. It lives in the shadow of the hysteria surrounding its predecessor. We live through almost a month of buildup towards Christmas, but once that day has settled, we go through a quick week preparing for New Year’s. The holiday becomes like a strange punctuation mark ending this last and magical season of the year, before the long cold death of winter envelops everything.
After the heyday of Christmas died down, we would have a New Year’s Eve party at my aunt’s house. The Christmas tree would still be standing, unmoved, casting colorful shadows of light around the room. Music would play. People would wear fake plastic top hats and the house was adorned with decorations of the numbers of the coming year. Wine glasses would bubble over with sparkling grape juice. My cousin and I would occasionally steal away to his room to read comic books and play video games. And we always left well before midnight.
But this was not an exciting time of year. It didn’t quite have the magic of Christmas; there were no gifts and the feasts were not as filling. The real holiday that we cared about was over, and now this was just one more thing to get through before a new year began.
Things have changed. Christmas, while still a special holiday with deep spiritual reflection, has grown less magical over the years. The holiday season feels less like an unbearable countdown and more like an inevitable storm that disappears as quickly as it arrived. We spend time with family, open presents, listen to the same songs and watch the same movies as last year, and yet that specialness in the air that accompanies Christmas during childhood has waned.
But New Year’s has strangely grown more poignant to me over the years, like a beautiful jewel that I never noticed but was right in front of me the whole time. It has been a new discovery of something as old as time itself.
Our families are together, just like at Christmas, only now many of us dare to stay up until midnight, to usher in the year. This is not only as important as our fellowship during Christmas, but perhaps even more so. We reflect not just on our time together, but the holiday itself emphasizes that that time is passing. Standing on the precipice of the dawn of the New Year, we are forced to confront how fast our lives are fading, and examine our own mortality.
And would that I could go back, and spend one more New Year’s Eve party at my aunt’s house with those same loved ones. The memories have become more precious in my mind than when they actually occurred.
And yet we choose to reflect on this fact, not with mournful sorrow, but with joy and celebration. We laugh and embrace one another as the ball falls and the bell tolls. We stay up and watch a city overflowing with throngs of people, embracing the cold, cheering as confetti fills the world and strains of “Auld Lang Syne” echo through the night sky.
It is perhaps that sense of unity that makes this holiday so special. While Christmas is theologically Christian, all religions, philosophies, and ethnicities set aside their differences on New Year’s. A New Year must come and none of us are immune from the passage of time. Crowds fill every street of every city and booming fireworks light up the darkness. This is one time where it is okay for all of us around the world to feel together, bound in unity to the fact that a year has passed and a new one has begun.
And it is that celebration that is the most profound. The general feeling of New Year’s and the breathtaking displays we put on can be summed up in one word: opportunity. Around the world, we all share the same feeling of standing on the edge of tomorrow, glimpsing into the dark void of an uncertain future, and yet we only see good things that we may accomplish. We don’t think of the loved ones who will pass away or the catastrophes that will rock the world. Our minds aren’t on terrorist attacks or dead celebrities or job losses, but on all the things we can do to help our neighbors and build our communities and create better lives.
As a single, bittersweet tear runs down one’s face to the sounds of everyone together singing that strange Scottish ballad from the late 1700s, he or she realizes that of all the holidays, New Year’s is perhaps the most optimistic and life-affirming
My first blog entry, “Each New Day Is a Miracle,” was uploaded January 24 of last year. In it, I wrote:
For everyone reading this blog, we are a community standing together, watching the sunrise in perfect unity, pondering on all the exciting things this day holds for us from the Lord. Every day is a new miracle from God, ripe with opportunities to see what He can do.
Now here we are, 1 year, 44 messages, and 30,749 views later. The success of this site has far surpassed my wildest expectations, and God gets all the praise. In that same blog, I also wrote “My pledge for this site is that every aspect of it will operate under the anointing of God. I depend entirely on the anointing, and it must cover everything I say or do. The responsibility is too great.” My pledge has not changed; in fact, that same statement applies not just for that first blog, but for this first one in the year 2016. I look in the future with all of you and only see great things that God will do through Depths of Pentecost. The past year has been great, but the coming year will be even greater as the Lord takes this ministry to a new level.
Once again, thank you all so much for your readership and support; I really could not continue this site without you. Let us all take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne!