Sleeping-in the New Year

Published 1:33 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

by Charles Qualls

One of my favorite childhood memories of New Years are the parties we used to host.  Ours were tame compared with most any of them that were going on around town, probably. Looking back I’m sure there wasn’t even any alcohol served. Just good friends, several families actually, that came together year after year to ring in the holiday together. 

We had a decent sized ranch home, with farm acreage surrounding. If the weather was favorable just north of Atlanta, the fun spilled over to the outdoors. My dad and his buddies usually found a way to prank the children and scare us somehow. Lots of laughter reigned. Several talented musicians in the bunch ensured that there would be singing around the piano. 

In our younger adulthood, Elizabeth and I always seemed to have a party to go to. Or, we had our own little party to watch Dick Clark and watch for the New Year to arrive. The fresh, exciting arrival of the calendar’s turn seemed compelling enough to mark. 

Somewhere along the way, we found ourselves sleeping-in the New Year instead. Nowadays, I would have to search a decade maybe to remember the last time we were awake and at a party as midnight arrived on that first day. The older I get, the harder I find sleeping to be at all. 

As I write, it’s one of the last days of 2017. I got up at 4 a.m. today because I seemed to be done with sleeping for the night. I had a weekly writing deadline or two to make, and then breakfast to cook. This morning, I awake with three ministerial colleagues on my mind. Though they live far away, they are up close to my heart today. One lost his wife a month ago after a long battle with cancer. Two others lost their wives on this Christmas day, one in a house fire and the other to a surgical complication. There is nothing that a new year will do this on January one to wipe away the pain they feel. 

Life can get all too real. No magic of the calendar, no childlike optimism can erase our larger challenges. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we don’t mark that holiday with quite the same vigor at our house as we used to. Frankly, we seem now to value the attempt at a good night’s sleep more than being awake way past our bedtime. 

That and less of the folks our age now seem to throw New Year’s parties. That could be it, too. 

So, what can be the value of starting a different year? Is there anything for mature adults at all? While we may not be as good at staying up late as we once were, maybe there is something worth marking after all. 

Closing out the year that has been could hold some power for us. Some years just seem better than others. Truth is, in most any annum there is both good and bad. But, figuratively there are some years we wish wouldn’t end, and others we can’t leave behind quickly enough. Looking back to see what we’d like to carry over into January, and beyond, is healthy. Leaving some memories, some habits or practices behind, is also a good thing to do. 

If we have the discipline to do so, resolving to pick up or resume a few better practices is also a helpful way to frame the start to a new year. I have long-since given up on making a New Year Resolution list. But if I did, some items might seem predictable. What’s the old joke?  Last year, I said I wanted to lose 10 pounds and now I’ve only got 15 to go.  So, losing some weight in 2018 would be on my list. 

Since I’ll continue to be the new pastor at Franklin Baptist for the next 10 years or so, getting to know our community better would be a worthy undertaking for 2018. Some things you just can’t rush. This is one of them. But, try we will. We’re having a great time in Franklin, and building friendships fast. Figuring out what more I could do to strengthen our local community will also be a priority in the first weeks of this year. That one, we could all do. There are needs to be met, and I can do something more, something specific. 

Even if I didn’t stay up all hours to ring it in, maybe there is power to the arrival of 2018. Time will tell. If there’s less of me to see in a few weeks, then we can credit the non-resolution resolution. What will you do with a fresh, new block of time? What would help everyone around if you woke up to new possibility? 

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.