New Year’s time for varied new beginnings
Christmas is over, but the clutter remains. After getting rid of the wrapped gifts that overtook our small extra bedroom for several weeks and sorting through the Christmas wrap -- some of which was several years old -- I am now trying to regain a little order amid the chaos. Getting rid of one load of stuff but bringing in another load calls for sorting and re-organizing.
With a new year coming, it seems the appropriate time to clean out and clear out the old to make room for the new. One part of the house that always seems to stay the same is the junk drawer in the kitchen. Doesn't everyone have one of those? Before the holiday, with its accompanying haste and chaos, I found I was having a hard time squashing in the stapler, the scotch tape and the two pair of scissors amidst the other necessary junk that seems to be needed in our day-to-day existence. How all the breadcrumbs got in there, too, is a mystery.
Out with the old applies to the refrigerator as well. Leftovers from previous days before the real feasting began are on the way out and most of what remains now are various boxes of homemade candy, a crumbling cheese ball, assorted vegetable dips and some very limp celery. Actually, nothing edible -- or at least nothing tempting after four days of eating every variation of sugar known to exist on this planet.
My daughter said it took a sonic blast of her new toothbrush to relieve her teeth of all the "fuzz" from the sugar and carbohydrate consumption. I found myself looking for fresh fruit in the store and green beans -- without mushroom soup, thank you -- and even a bottle of grapefruit juice looked tempting.
Out with the old includes not showing up at the gym for the last six weeks as well. Finding myself struggling with each Christmas load reminds me that it takes only about 24 hours for the degeneration to begin, so I am way overdue. Plus, the jeans are really tight now. What began at Thanksgiving must now end.
A pleasant surprise came in an invitation to attend church services with my friend, Melanie King, at the Lutheran church in Lawrence the day after Christmas. Not having attended a regular service there, I was amazed at how much the service is like the Catholic mass. The only difference being that we don't usually sing ten to 13 stanzas of a hymn by Martin Luther written especially for Christmas. But everything else was so familiar and comfortable I felt right at home. I even ran into some friends there. Among them were Karen Anderson and Carolyn Wise, who is one of our cancer survivors at the annual relay in Eudora.
Some time ago, I attended church services with my son and his wife in Parkville, Mo. At that time they were having services in a large building they were renovating. The gathering was filled for the most part with young families. The service was informal, the dress casual and the music, which was provided by a band, was contemporary.
Both of these experiences reminded me how much we share and how little difference it makes whether we worship in a traditional setting or a hall under renovation -- especially at this time of the year when we focus on our similarities rather than our differences. I hope in the days and years to come this will include not only those of us who share Christianity, but faiths beyond our own comfort zone as well.
This brings to mind columnist Anna Quinlen's recent article, which focused on the complaint that Christ has been removed from Christmas. She comments that religious concerts and services, lights and candles abound all around us and continue until the Epiphany or the coming of the Three Kings.
Before Christmas we saw "cars zooming by with trees lashed to their roofs and worshipers crowding the pews to listen as John the Baptist prepared the way." And most importantly she states, "if people are really worried about keeping Christ in Christmas, they might personally exhibit tolerance and charity, kindness and generosity."
This thought sounds not only like an old prescription for a new year but a reminder that has lasting meaning for all of us through the year.
Another passage has occurred with the ending of 2004 that will have a particular effect on those of us connected with The Eudora News. Erinn Barcomb has left us for another position. I hope you caught her column in last week's paper as she wished us all an eloquent farewell. I personally will miss Erinn -- not only for her coverage of so very many of the local events, but especially for her participation in the Eudora Relay for Life cancer walk and her generous coverage of the Habitat for Humanities home that was built in Eudora several years ago. We wish her well and look forward to seeing her again at this year's relay, which she promised to attend.
As we say farewell to Erinn we warmly welcome Emily Miller who will be taking Erinn's place at the paper, and look forward to seeing her byline in coming issues of The Eudora News.
Before I leave this year to begin a new one, I am thankful for the past year with all of its joys and pains, and I am especially happy to have celebrated another birthday on Christmas Day with my family. I am never put off by the passage of years, just thankful they keep coming.
With that, I wish a Happy New Year to all.