By Peter M. Kalellis

The New Year is a cause for celebration, for reliving and for looking back. One thing to be true is that a lot can happen in a year, and among the good, the bad, and the ugly, we have learned many lessons. As we say goodbye to 2019, let’s celebrate this holiday season in a spirit of joy and gratitude.

No doubt about it, we may have many wishes swirling around, or we may feel so fragmented that we don’t know what we want. Why not take a personal inventory and number our desires, wants, and needs and decide on a plan to attain them? The key to finding who we are is to go through our day with awareness. What is the purpose and meaning of our life? Where are we going or where would we like to go? With focus and conscious attention to our daily life, we can take brief moments to self-awareness. In a few simple deep breaths, we can say, Lord, as you came into our world to share our lives, please come into this day and give us the daily bread. We hand over to you our anxieties and fears, asking you for direction.

Imagine how different this time of year would be if we let every handshake, hug, and smile be an opportunity—even for a few brief seconds—to give thanks to God for our new spirit. Lord, please fill our lives, our relationships, with faith, generosity, and love. You know the struggles we have gone through, let us be as compassionate, forgiving, and loving as you are.

At the end of each day, we can be grateful for the miracle of life. We can awaken the best feelings in all people, and for that, we must take the chance to send a special message to all our loved ones and the people around us. Remember to share a little smile, a kind word, a genuine handshake with those in need.

This season also brings a mixed bag of emotions and memories. Whether you’ve just walked through the most significant year of your life, or are incredibly glad to see this one finally end, one truth still rings clear amidst it all. You are not alone. How grateful we feel as we think of His presence in our life. And though things and people around us shift and change, God’s love never changes.

As glasses are raised, and colorful fireworks explode into the sky, it’s essential to recognize the unique symbolism this New Year’s holiday brings with it. A time of new beginnings and fresh start also comes with it a time of reflection and promises. Whether your resolutions consist of keeping your visits at the local gym or for better relationships with loved ones, it can make all the difference to put these hopes into words and warm wishes.

For a good start, enjoy this New Year’s Eve and each of the following days of 2020 in good health and happiness.

You and I can whisper a few words of “thank you” for all that we have in our lives. We can pray for His spirit to lead us each step of this New Year. We can ask that he will guide our decisions and will open new doors.

We can ask for God’s wisdom, strength, and power to make us strong and courageous for the road ahead. We can pray that He will keep us far from the snares and traps of temptations.

May the fruits of God’s spirit be evident in our lives—his love, joy, peace, kindness, and gentleness. Amen.