Christmas is still a week away and already I’m thinking ahead to the New Year and what I might do differently in 2017. It’s a habit formed long ago and intrinsically tied to my feelings about Christmas. After all, the Christmas story is the ultimate tale of change and improvement. Jesus changed everything there ever was or would be. I find it only natural to pray each year that the celebration of his birth somehow changes me; for no matter how long I live, there will always be room for improvement of this humble temple.
I was a practical child so it was perfectly logical to go from my “I want” Santa list to my “I wish-I hope” resolution list. If I got paper and crayons for Christmas I could draw and become a better artist. If I received a book I could read it and get smarter. If someone gave me pretty clothes I could look better and be more accepted by my peers. If I got something I “needed” it saved me from having to ask my parents for it and perhaps hearing that they couldn’t afford it. I really can’t recall ever being unhappy with a gift. Anything I got was more than I already had. However, some gifts resulted in new responsibilities or expectations and I wasn’t always ready for them.
My feelings about gifts haven’t changed much. I still enjoy giving and receiving them, but each one represents a change in my life, some as simple as making a place for a new piece of art, others as complicated as making changes in my daily routine. Change can be embraced or resisted, but it can’t be ignored. So yes…I’m going to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I’m also wondering what lies ahead for me.