I was raised going to Mary’s Memorial’s New Year’s Eve meeting. I looked forward to it every year. The church would be filled with people of all ages. Mama and Daddy would have everyone over to the house after the service. At midnight, we’d all pile outside, hop in a car and blow the new year in with blaring car horns. It was a wonderful, fun, bonding time with the most important people in my life.
The first time I remember ever missing, I was about 19. I had gone out of town and I was so lonely and sad. It felt all wrong. I called Mama around midnight and got to listen to everyone chatting and laughing happily in the background.
I can’t remember when it stopped being a priority to go to the New Year’s Eve service, or even why. I remember being nervous on Y2K and making the decision to stay home, but I think I’d stopped going regularly before that. The rest of the years are just a blur. The more I didn’t go, the easier it became.
This year, there was nothing more I wanted to do. Probably because this is one of the worst years we’ve ever had. Physically, emotionally, financially – everything was just so painful and complicated this year. Perhaps it is also because I have four kids weighing heavily on my heart, two of my own, and two I couldn’t love more if they were my own, who are in need of salvation. As is human nature, the place I most desired to be at years end, is the place I find the most comfort.
On the way to church last night Machaela said that she didn’t ever remember going to the New Year’s service and it felt like my heart exploded. How did I let that happen? How did I deprive my child of something that was so important to my childhood? Sure, my health has been bad for many years, but I’m sure there were more than a few occasions when I could have made it.
As I looked around the little church house, there were so many faces missing. Only twenty-five people were there, and that was considered a good crowd. Even though I felt crushing guilt, I was also thankful. There were only two preachers and a tiny handful of visitors, I still felt thankful there that was a whole bench of young people and three babies. The future.
I never went anywhere else on New Year’s Eve, I just stopped going the one place I should have been. Why on earth did I ever let myself think it was okay to simply stay home?
My goal for next year is to be so much healthier that I can try and ressurect the old tradition of inviting people home with us after the service. My children missed that due to my disobience, but maybe, just maybe, my grandchildren will be able to look back and remember each new year being rung in with the sound of old timey preaching and car horns.