When the clock strikes midnight early tomorrow morning, this place isn’t likely to thrill with sound makers and confetti.

For one, the girls will be sleeping in their flannels. For two, New Years isn’t the biggest of occasions in our house. It’s fine. We hold no offense.

It’s just OK.

I’m mixed about the whole thing. It’s possible my husband’s New Years myeh has rubbed off on me a little after these many years together.

The last few with young kids we’ve celebrated over finger foods and basement play with friends. Fun and simple and all wrapped up by 9:30.

Last year, we tried to up the significance factor. On New Years Day, we compiled a poster board list of things we hoped to do, ways we desired to grow in 2011. Didn’t get through too many of them. Maybe we’ll try again. If we do, “Get in better shape as a family,” “Swim in 4 feet deep water” and “Try not to yell at my sisters” will likely make a return.

So there’s the obligatory feeling that we (OK, I) want to make the occasion a little bit special. But just as strong the reality that I’m still tired from all the celebrations, and we’ve got to gear up for a return to school, and I certainly don’t want to try too hard.

Certainly, no shiny clothes or babysitting required.

On a recent year, we partook of the little party with friends, drove home with a make-shift countdown (kids love counting “blast-off” style backwards — it doesn’t matter if it’s in the back seat hours from midnight) and tucking the kidlets in.

This was followed promptly by “The Last King of Scotland” on a laptop in bed with the hubby.

It’s worth noting that he and I were so enthralled by Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin that we continued putting off pausing the movie, nearly forgot it was New Years, ran downstairs to the TV at 11:58 and 30 seconds and watched the big crystal apple fall in Times Square.

Yippee.

As an adult, New Years feels forced.

I don’t love to be told when to kiss my husband. I’m a reluctant resolution maker. I don’t love to be told when it’s time for a fresh start.

New starts breathe unexpected throughout the year, don’t they?

I like to decide when to clean the closets, focus on my health, work towards personal goals, and being told to do it brings out the occasional rebel in me.

The very occasional rebel.

A small side note… One incidence of rebellion includes the following: Sneaking out with my friend, Nancy, to take her dog for a walk and meet up to talk with two boys in the cul-de-sac a few blocks from her house. We thought ourselves supremely stealthy, but apparently brushing your teeth at 8 pm before attaching a leash to a dog’s collar has a way of tipping off observant parents like Nancy’s.

On another rebellious act side note: I relished twisting loaves of Wonder Bread into messy wads and placing the sacks back on grocery store shelves. My mama instilled deep within my sister and me a dislike for bread possessing no nutritional value. I took the duty of bread smashing (unbeknownst to her) with a combination of inconsistency (I felt bad that I was costing the store money so I couldn’t bring myself to do it much) and the fervor of a picket sign-carrying protestor (that stuff is hurting kids!).

Back to New Years.

The rule follower and occasional rebel clash in the hours leading up to midnight.

Maybe it’s that, though I like celebrations of people and milestones as much as the next guy, I shift uncomfortably celebrating a year. Wait. Are we celebrating the year gone, the one coming?

What am I supposed to feel? Sad? Happy? Nostalgic? Muddled bittersweetness? Sometimes I feel a little weepy at the girls growing so big, remember with fondness a family trip, a new walker or a new reader in the house.

But sometimes I don’t feel much extra because I feel this kind of stuff a lot.

As I sat with the conflict this week, I saw:

“God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.” Psalm 47:5-7

Oh yes. I don’t have to make myself do or feel anything, but I can choose to praise.

When it comes down to it, no matter the occasion, each is an opportunity for praise.

And sometimes these strange, arranged occasions can serve as reminders. Do you ever need to be reminded to praise?

I do.

And it’s quite possible that I could celebrate a little more, too.

I’m not sure.

But these shouts and blasts of sound-makers on New Years Eve could be calls triumphant and grateful to the good King. The One who led us through sorrow and elation and everything between in 2011.

This countdown to a new year could be a recounting of God’s goodness — graced love and tender faithfulness abundant.

It could be a choice to continue walking faith and hope.

These mercies new every morning are new every year, too.

So I can say heartily, Happy New Year, friends.

May 2012 bring unexpected joy.

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