December is by far my busiest month of the year. The days are filled with organizing events, recycling toys to give to needy kids, buying gifts, decorating the house, and planning Christmas get-togethers and Christmas Eve dinner. Then there’s New Year’s celebration to ring out the old and ring in the new.
But there are a few special days, like an island of refuge floating quietly in this sea of perpetual movement—the days between Christmas in the Gregorian calendar and New Year’s—December 26th through 30th. These days are my personal time of reflection. Not that I have five days of retreat, because there’s still a lot to do to finish the year! But during these days is when I take stock of the year that is ending and contemplate the new one before me.
First, I pull out my agenda to go over the most significant events of the year. I thank God for the obvious blessings, as well as the “blessings in disguise” that came in the form of difficulties and lessons learned the hard way! I’m always amazed at how much can happen in 12 months, and how long ago some of the events seem!
If I didn’t take time to look back in reflection, some important threads of the tapestry of my life would be lost in forgetfulness, and I might miss the bigger picture of how events are unfolding. Over the years I’ve a made a collection of year-end reviews.
Then I look forward to the year ahead. Some years seem to be already pretty much planned out, others are more nebulous, but in any case, I know there will always be surprises. I dedicate the year to God and write a prayer as I feel led. I also try to find an appropriate Bible verse that will go along with the prayer.
This year, my verse is Matthew 6:33 from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”1 I hope to review it often and to study what it means to “seek God’s kingdom first” in my actions. I’d also like to contemplate what “righteousness” means to Him, which I suspect is more about love, faith, and grace than my puny efforts toward perfection. And lastly, to have faith for “all these things” that my heavenly Father promises to provide.
Every year I look forward to these days between Christmas and the New Year, when I can lay aside time to step back from December’s activities, take stock of the past year, count my many blessings, and commit the coming year to His precious care.