Awaited

The silence is perfect.

After a month in waiting, all the earth slumbers peacefully beneath a blanket of white.  There are smiles and tears, displays of love that might feel out of place anywhere else, at any other time.  It’s a time for coming home, for drawing near.  And as choirs sing by the light of luminaries, everyone finally sits, sighs, and takes a moment as the world prepares to begin anew.

The years, it seems, grow harder and shorter as one ages, and each one that passes seems to remind one that only a finite number remain.  After the freezing winter, the hopeful spring, the sultry summer, as the autumn leaves begin to fall we begin a celebration: the celebration of a year.

One more trip around the sun.  A year filled with hardship and triumph, heart and heartache.  New relationships begun, old ones ended, a change of career, a change of path, a change of heart.  Thousands of smiles, tears, laughs, meals, cups hoisted, words written and read.  Thousands of minutes spent in toil, wasted in traffic, whiled away in dreams.  The sum total of all our efforts, of all we’ve done and all we’ve failed to do, and it all ends here: beneath a blanket of white, with a nip in the air and a million twinkling lights.

Whatever you believe in, however you choose to believe it, your year on this Earth has led you here.  Some endings are put off, dreaded, yet this one is universally welcomed.  It is awaited: some spend all year planning for it, picking out gifts and holiday decorations.  For some, the occasion is marked by tinsel and trees.  For others, it’s as simple as nine candles flickering on the windowsill, or fast and prayer.  For some, it’s just an easier smile, and a whispered “Happy holidays.”

In the end, it doesn’t matter.  One could spend hours reading one’s eyes red on the subject of how this time of year became so special to so many.  Yet, somehow, this stretch of days that hangs from the end of the calendar has become almost universally celebrated.  It’s a period of transition, of rebirth: the end of one journey, and the beginning of another.  It is something to look forward to, something not to be rushed, to be cherished.  It is awaited.  And in winter chill, it warms us all.

Now, as we sit on this sacred night, we put aside our reflections, our assessments of the year that wanes as wax dripping from a candle, and we air our hopes.  We wish for strength, for happiness and fortune.  We pray for peace.  And most of all, we hope that, however good or bad the past year was, that the next one will be better.

We cannot see the road ahead.  The new year stands virgin and unspoiled for now: rife with potential.  But the challenges of the future can wait until the feast is over and the lights extinguished.  For now, all the world sits quietly and relishes this moment we have all been waiting for.

You made it.  You spent another year on this earth, and navigated the maze to its end.  This is the reward: peace, silence, light, and renewal.  This is what we have all been waiting for in our own way.  And we all enjoy it in our own way, in joyful hope that it will come again, one year on.

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