That's "Happy New Year!" in Finnish. Actually, Finns wish you a "Happy" Christmas, and just a "Good" New Year. God forbid they should get too excited.
Friends of ours invited us to a New Year's Eve party at their house last night, and we were leaning toward going. But my sister is visiting from Utah. (Glen and I picked her up from the airport yesterday afternoon.) It was bitter, bitter cold out last night; the kind of cold where the air numbs your brain and turns your face to rubber. Our friends live in Chaska (a distant suburb), and we don't own a car, and I didn't feel like trudging through the bitter cold, over slippery, uneven sidewalks to the nearest Hourcar rental hub. And we were feeling low in energy. And I was kind of wanting to focus on spending time with my sister. So instead, we just stayed home.
Glen and I worked on dinner. We made a special meal of tortellini and salad. Then after dishes were washed and put away, we all settled down to watch The Big Lebowski together, somehow a strangely appropriate film to ring in the New Year with. Old years fade, and new years arrive, but the Dude abides. We played some games on the Wii (bowling, of course, especially after The Big Lebowski). Then we played a traditional Finnish New Year's Eve game, where you toss molten tin into a bucket of cold water, and then read your fortunes for the new year by pulling the bits of tin out of the bucket and studying the strange shapes and textures you've created. (In the candlelight, mine looked like a seahorse.) We watched Dick Clark's and Ryan Seacrest's inane chatter in Times' Square, while munching on Finnish candy and leftover Christmas pulla until the ball dropped and it was officially 2010. Then we all went to bed.
I woke up this morning feeling well rested, and deeply, profoundly happy and grateful. I like the way this year has started... Refreshed and well fed, with family and loved ones and possibilities.
In 2009 I finished my book manuscript, which was my major task for the year. But more importantly, 2009 was a year of incredible growth for me in faith and in family relationships. It was a year of important insights, some stimulated by the process of writing the manuscript, but the most important stimulated by opening my heart and mind and just listening -- listening to the Spirit and listening to my husband and to our son, and then trying to apply what I've learned from listening. But it was also a year of growing confidence, that comes from solidifying what I've already learned. I've turned an important corner.
I stopped making New Year's resolutions many, many years ago. (I think 99% of New Year's resolutions in America have to do with the fatuous goal of losing the weight gained in the preceding five weeks!) But I do nurture New Year's hopes. I think of my brothers and sisters and friends and I pray for all of us -- each and every one -- to find the true sources of our strength this year, to find more hope, to dare to be happy, to love, and to not let this cruel world or those with closed minds or cold hearts take us down. Let us have courage and build each other up, love and protect and nurture one another. And let's keep our promise to not leave a single soul behind, to not leave anyone with a burden to bear it alone. Let us tell each other stories of the Kingdom of God, and let that vision warm us through the cold winter nights. (The days are getting longer now!) More importantly, let's live the kingdom; let us be its citizens, so that our love and unity can be the light that draws others in, until the bride is ready to receive the bridegroom and the counting of years can come to its promised end.
Have a Good New Year!