New year, new start?

By Moira Billinge

New Year’s Eve always feels different to any other day and, whether we like it or loathe it, we won’t be able to ignore it or pretend that it’s not happening.

So much hype and hysteria revolve around the date. If we aren’t already worn down to a frazzle by our Christmas planning, cooking, cleaning and shopping, and weary of the bombardment of slick, incessant and loud advertising for food, alcohol and gifts that none of us can supposedly do without, then, lo and behold, in the run-up to New Year’s Eve we’re faced with it all over again, together with the media saturation of the unmissable bargains and delights that await us in the January sales.

While already drained of our energy and cash after the big Christmas spend, we attempt to goad our tired bodies into preparing to welcome in another year and force ourselves to stay awake and wait for the midnight hour to chime – as it has done for each of the previous 364 days without our even noticing (unless we suffer from insomnia). To make matters worse, the excesses of the season can also leave us feeling low and susceptible to any germs that happen to be flying around.

At an hour when most sensible people would normally be tucked up in bed, we attempt to sing the song for which hardly anyone appears to know all the lyrics – Auld Lang Syne – and then continue partying.

Will things change next year? Probably not. We will no doubt repeat the whole exhausting rigmarole all over again.

The approach of a new year can be particularly difficult for many people in our society, and especially so for the bereaved. It is a time when they might most keenly feel the loss of loved ones. The inevitable celebrations taking place all around painfully serve to highlight the fact that they will not be able to share the year ahead with the people they have lost, and such grief can be a very lonely place indeed.

Yet even if we've struggled to get through one year, there is always hope that the next will be better. In the darkest days of December, we celebrated a new beginning with Jesus’ birthday and now we look forward to the year to come.

Even if our New Year's resolutions are habitually forgotten within a few weeks, before January has managed to get its boots on properly, at this time of year we should still endeavour to think about what we might improve. Maybe if we decide to make more realistic, more practical, resolutions for 2019, we might have a better chance of achieving them – like taking some time to call the friend we haven't spoken to in ages. Or taking time to do something that helps us to relax ... once we’ve taken the time to actually work out what that is!

And, of course, taking time to give some more time to our wonderful God.

Even small steps can make a big difference to how we feel about our world and the people in it and this period, entering a new year, is a good time to start that journey. We can be sure that our amazing God will continue to accompany us throughout the coming months, in whatever lies ahead. The memory of our recent celebration of the birth of Christ, our King, will outlive the sound of exploding crackers, popping corks and the unwrapping of Christmas presents.

Happy New Year!