New Year Wishes, Celebrations and Resolutions

I have composed over 10,000 words on columns for New Year. This year I plan to use the best of the best, but it will take me two columns to complete the task.

I will let the reader decide on my best jest opening: A farmer had only one ear. On New Year’s morning his neighbor drives into the yard, stops his truck and hollers across the yard, “Happy New Year!” The farmer hollers back, “The horse bit it off!”

Then there was the guy who wanted to get into the temple on Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, without a ticket. "Look, I just want to give a message to a friend in there. I'll be back in a minute." "Alright," says attendant, "but I better not catch you praying."

For celebrations that touch the soul let’s go back to childhood New Year’s morning. My siblings and I would tip toe to Mom and Dad’s room, gently open the door and whisper a German verse: “I wish you a happy New Year, long life, good health, peace and contentment; and after your death, eternal good fortune.” A bag of treats was our sure reward.

After Mass at St. Donatus, the old stone church on the hill, we would travel by bobsled to visit relatives and friends. Each place we recited the German verse, received treat bags and some coins, and at Uncle Nick’s we would enjoy a sip of wine or home brew, depending on our age. 

A nun in my high school caught my imagination with this simile: “The New Year lies before you, like fresh fallen snow. Be careful how you tread it, because every step will show.”

We have the chance for a NEW beginning. Though New Year’s resolutions may go in one year and out the other, some of the wisdom stays. Gilbert Keith Chesterton said, “Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” Now that is worth pondering!

In Homilies for Everyday Life Father Rudolph Novecosky shares three little New Year’s Resolution for a child of God: PULL BACK, PICK UP and PUT DOWN. If we can do these three things, PULL BACK from judgement, PICK UP on the positive and PUT DOWN our emotional garbage (angers, hurts and disappointments)”, we will have a Happy New Year.

In past columns I have coined the phrase “born again” Christmas. Unless we embrace the reality of the birth of our Saviour, and for most of us that means again becoming children at heart, we are not on the path to the Promised Land.

We need to have Christ born again in our hearts at Christmas so we can continue the journey towards the events of Easter. The rich symbolic language of scripture helps us visualize this voyage. The chosen people travelled forty years to reach the Promised Land. What is our Exodus?

“I’ll be home for New Year’s” is a tune for “Born again” New Year. Unless we are born again this Holy Season, we will not be ready to grow in Grace and holiness in 2019.

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth. Martin Luther

(550 words)

By Ken Rolheiser