We put away our tree yesterday without regret.
Christmas was warm and simple, the way I hoped it would be. After opening presents, we visited my grandparents in their separate care centers, and both were in high spirits. The kids played the piano in the rec room for my grandmother, which I think she liked, though a younger man in a wheelchair muttered that we were interrupting his Christmas Sports Center experience.
Often we feel wistful when we put decorations away after Christmas, but not this time. There was nothing sensational about the season, but it was enough. We had holy, quiet moments where we reflected on the birth of Jesus, on his life, death, and resurrection, on the salvation that he offers to those who know they need it. We listened to Christmas music (the kids begged for international renditions as well as electronic remixes this year). We ate loads of chocolate and spicy sausage. We opened presents and created hazardous fires with piles of discarded paper.
And now we’re ready for 2016.
Last year was an anxious one for the United States and the world. We struggled for perspective, finding ourselves caught up in an endless barrage of bad news along with everyone else. It looks as if the new year will continue to present us with compelling reasons to lose hope.
But we’re ready, and we refuse.
Jesus is both the reason for Christmas and the reason for the hope that is within us. (Which is not to say he’s the author of some pie-in-the-sky optimism that won’t look properly at the dire straights we’re all in. On the contrary, his mandate to love others means that as his followers we’ll likely feel and see more sorrow–not less–as we seek to clasp hurting hands wherever we find them. More sorrow and more reality).
We’re determined to carry on in 2016 without hand-wringing and panic because he promises that he will never leave us, never forsake us, never stop remaking us. And not just us but, someday, everything. Until then, we will join him in telling people Good News–news that hurts in the short run but heals in the end. And we will love boldly because we have been loved.
Yep. We want to face 2016 with defiant, humble gladness, like people who have read the last chapter. Because we have. And it’s very good.