525,600 minutes – how do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year in the life? – from the song Seasons of Love by Jonathan Larson
The last days in December are for measuring. We measure this Christmas with the Christmases from our childhood. Our holiday traditions are honored and duplicated because we find comfort in the familiar.
After the excitement of Christmas is over, we turn our attention to a broader unit of measurement – trying to measure the year. This is when we attempt to take an inventory of where we have been and how we have been changed along the way.
2008 was a time of change and growth for my family. Mary Beth earned her Master’s degree and then unexpectedly lost her father a few weeks later; our oldest son, Brandon, graduated from college and went on to create a life on his terms; Caitlin changed from a restless teenager to a young woman with a determined focus and passion for life; Andrew, for the first time, acknowledged his fears; and our youngest, Emily, found her niche and is beginning to claim her individuality.
I saw change, too. I’m beginning to realize my value and understand the power I have to be a person of choice. After 46 years, I’m ready to heal my wounds, once and for all, and acknowledge what they have cost me in the past. Through my writing, I’m finding my voice – one full of confidence and hope for the future.
On Thursday, all six of us will be together again. It will be a time to celebrate our family traditions. No doubt we will reflect on the year and try to apply some unit of measurement to it. We will talk about the significance of what happened and how we can use the events to help us keep growing and continue learning how to become the people we are destined to become.
When we sit down to dinner on Christmas day Mary Beth will look to me to lead our family in prayer. In an odd sort of way our family has been separated from one another this year. The issues we have confronted have been personal ones. Our energy, and our attention, has been focused inward and we have had little energy to share with others.
But the best part of being a family is when we take the time for some self-care, the others understand all they have to do is to ask for some help and it will be given. Our children also understand no matter the issues Mary Beth and I are facing, their needs will always come before our own.
When I look around the table I will see change. I will see five people who aren’t settling for a life that is just good enough. Growth is hard work and it can be uncomfortable. However, Christmas Day will take us back to each other – back to the familiar and back to the comfortable, if only for a little while. For one more day we will laugh and share and remember the best way to measure a year is to measure it in love.
This is my benediction for the year. It’s a bridge to connect where we have been this past year to where we are going in the new one. It offers some sense, and promise, that no matter what happens in our lives we can always find value and purpose in the circumstance.