Real talk - New Year’s Eve

I’m writing this from my in-laws’ house in New Jersey. It is downpouring, as it has been all day. I am sitting miserably on the couch, as I have been all day, due to the worst pulled muscle in my neck and back that I have ever experienced.

It is 9:51 and wMatt and I have spent the last two hours putting the kids to bed. The five-year old took a while to calm down for bed, but fell asleep quickly and sweetly after figuring out how much pain his mama was in. He is so sensitive. I love him for it. And I worry for him, too.

The two-year old did at least three rounds of screaming herself to sleep in Matt’s arms, and then waking up screaming the second she hit the crib. Her genuine pleading for “snuggles” and the sobs behind her screams broke our hearts, and we gave in many times, picking her up and hugging her and giving her sips of water, but also finally had to dig deep and let her cry in her crib until she wore herself out, because sometimes sleep is just as important as snuggles.

I doubt we’ll make it to midnight tonight. I doubt that we’ll get much sleep, even if we get to bed early. Me, with my throbbing back. Matt, with a miserable cold. The kids, sleeping away from home, both as likely as not to wake up in the middle of the night and demand to join us in bed.

This is real life, my friends.

It is the passing of one year into the next, and yet it is just like any other passing of one day into another. We will survive the night, whether peacefully or fitfully, and at some point the rain will stop and my back will heal and Matt’s cold will go away and the kids will remember how to sleep.

As I get older, I am aware of how the passing of time seems to accelerate, and how each milestone - whether a holiday or birthday or flip of the calendar - carries with it a sense of finality that I never used to notice or appreciate. Kids have the luxury of a lifetime ahead of them, and can rush their hearts from one milestone to the next, in giant, eager leaps.

As adults, we grow more reflective, I think. We know that all things are finite. We realize that this moment matters, and that each moment deserves its due appreciation, and that skipping ahead too fast means that we might miss something worthwhile along the way.

Each morning comes on its own. Each year passes without the help of my eagerness or celebration of it.

None of this is meant to sound morose. (Not completely, at any rate.)

But as I wonder whether I might have chosen to pass this evening differently, as I wonder if I should have been out celebrating, as I wonder whether I should be making more plans and grand declarations for the year to come; as I consider the finer merits of reinventing myself or staying up until midnight or taking more ibuprofen, I realize that my hopes on this night are no different than my hopes on any other night:

that there might be peace in this world, and healing for all who are in pain; rest for the weary, comfort for the grieving, love for the lost and the lonely...

that there might be a triumph of kindness, grace, gratitude, beauty, music, and laughter over all this world’s harsh edges...

that good will win, that resurrection will come...

It might be New Year’s Eve, but it is also just another night. It is simply another setting and rising of the sun, another day to hold onto with some measure of wonder and appreciation, lest it slip away unnoticed, lest the allure of the mysterious future eclipse the beauty of the mysterious and beautiful present.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and it is raining, and I am sitting on a couch with a cat in my lap, and the evening has been a bit of a mess. But there have also been Christmas cookies to eat, and snuggles from kids and cats alike, and twinkly Christmas lights, and stories and laughter and thankfulness and gifts and grace and patience and helpfulness and thoughtfulness.

It is New Year’s Eve, and it looks more like the Food Network and pjs than like champagne and sequins.

And that’s okay.