It’s not that I want Christmas to be over or that I’m not looking forward to it – my brother is coming, we’ll have some sort of meal, there are presents – but to be honest, I think all of us have downplayed Christmas, perhaps unintentionally this year. It just doesn’t seem all that exciting without Mom to hype us up with lots of Christmas concerts and an overflow of gifts. In fact, when I think about it, well, it’s just next Saturday. I guess that’s kind of sad.

Still, though, I find myself looking forward to next year in a way I never have before. Normally, New Year’s is such a blur because it comes between semesters for me, but this year, I get to see this new year as really a fresh start, not the thing that comes in between. I am living in a new place. I am without formal work. I am learning to live without people that I love. All of that is, well, very hard but also very good in only the way the hardest parts of life can be.

So I am looking past Christmas to the new year. No resolutions for me, just intentions. To write, to take care of myself by eating well and taking very long walks often, to love the people in my life without losing sight of myself, to read, to visit people I love, to hear good music, to listen more to the voice of the God who loves me better than I could ever love myself.

A week from today when I probably will sit on this couch with only the Christmas lights on and cats circling in alternating rhythms of rest and play, I will remember that it is just this that we celebrate at Christmas – a birth that wasn’t tidy or pristine or separate from the grime and pain of life, but still a birth, a new beginning. A new life.

Bethlehem Star