All of us love a fresh start, and fortunately, each of us has that today. The numbers 1/1/11 virtually shout “new start” as we have another chance to take advantage of opportunities and begin again.
Some people enjoy their New Year’s Eve so much, New Year’s Day is spent getting back on an even keel. Others take advantage of long-practiced family New Year’s Day traditions in an effort to start the year on a familiar note. Our family customarily has company (family and others) for a dinner of “Aunt Minnie’s Irish Stew.” The recipe makes dinner for 16, and I usually double it.
This tradition came through Mom’s father, a jovial, fun-loving Irish man. He and his daughter were two peas in a pod, and Mom both looked and acted Irish, though her mother was Swedish. She used to joke to my Dad (who was 100% Swedish), “I lost all my Swedish blood in nose bleeds as a child.”
Her family whooped it up big-time on New Year’s Day, opening their home to anyone wanting to share their stew. Although Mom’s parents both died in the 1940’s, she carried on the tradition, eventually handing it off to us.
Last year on this date Nate had been gone less than two months. No one felt like celebrating, and most of our usual New Year’s guests were 110 miles away. For the first time in many years, I didn’t make Irish stew. Actually, I have no memory of last January 1st, and as we approached today, my thought was, “We’re done with Aunt Minnie’s stew.”
Something in me said, “Make a new start.”
And isn’t that what New Year’s Day is about? It’s a chance to do something fresh. Just because “we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t mean we can’t make a change.
Our God is never stale and is full of fresh everything, a bottomless well of initiative and inventiveness. He’s always ready with a new idea. Although I love family traditions, if they’re to continue, they need to bring joy. If they don’t, it’s time to ask God what else we might do.
Nothing about Aunt Minnie’s stew appealed this year, possibly because I’m not well yet, but possibly because it was time to start a new tradition. I took a poll, and no one needed to be coerced. Stew would be replaced with Chinese take-out.
But today’s best new tradition had nothing to do with the menu. After dinner, as we sat around the candlelit table sharing almond cookies and ice cream, our conversation turned again to spiritual things. Before too many minutes, a Bible was on the table and Scripture took center stage.
For two hours we round-tabled ideas, trying hard to sanction God’s words rather than our own. Everyone participated, and I can’t remember having a better dialogue. All of us left the table enriched in our thinking about who the Lord is and how he factors into 2011.
It’s possible Aunt Minnie’s stew might reappear on another January 1st. But stew or kung pow, I hope our post-dinner conversation becomes the permanent tradition.
“I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him [Jesus] and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:8)