It's New Year's Eve!

No, it’s not December 31st just yet. (Did you give the calendar a panicky look?)

Tomorrow is St. Andrew’s Day (he’s the patron saint of Scotland) and also, this year, the first Sunday in Advent and therefore the first day of the new ecclesiastical year.
Question: why is it that people paint themselves green on St Patrick’s Day (even if they don’t have Irish blood) but they don’t paint themselves blue on St. Andrew’s Day, even if they’re Scots?
I mean, if you have an ancestral tradition of painting yourself blue, why not go for it?

Braveheart

I did actually paint myself blue once (although not on St. Andrew’s Day) with blue food colouring mixed into my sunscreen. I figured if it was safe to eat, it was probably safe to wear.
Rather disturbingly, though, it sank into my skin regardless of how many coats I put on, and I ended the day a pale silvery blue.
And then I leaked blue into my clothes for a week. Next time I might just rub myself with woad, or its nearest antipodean equivalent. (Tips?)

Fremont Solstice Parade 2011 - cyclists 114

Anyway, regardless of what colour you are planning on being tomorrow, it’s the first day of Advent, the Season of Anticipation, when the church looks forward to celebrating Christ’s first coming, and remembers to anticipate his second. (N.B. If you are not looking forward to Christmas, try staying out of shops. It helps.) Advent is by its very nature a forward-looking time, and it can be useful for more than just preparing for Christmas.

You see, with traditional New Year’s Resolutions, the serious (in fact, crippling) downside is that you make them in the holidays, when everything’s out of routine. That’s the absolute last time that works for starting something new. If you start with the ecclesiastical new year, on the other hand, you get three to four weeks head start before the holidays whip the carpet from under your feet.

A crowd of people falling over on the pavement outside an op Wellcome V0040778

The other problem with the usual New Year’s Resolutions is that you don’t get any time to get yourself organized. You’re just plunged straight into the new year, everything’s closed, and by the time you’ve missed a day or a week or so, it seems a bit late for a fresh start that year.
Again, Advent to the rescue! Advent can be a time for getting things together, getting focused, and getting your head in the game. (Odd expression. There aren’t many games that are improved by sticking your head into the middle of things. Trust me.)

So, in the Adventular spirit of Looking Ahead, what’s coming up for you this year? Is there something you want to accomplish, something you want to quit, or any other kind of change to make?
Now, I know some people are staunchly anti-resolution, often because they know that resolutions seldom stick. I don’t make resolutions myself, for that very reason. Why make yourself more reasons to feel guilty?

PostcardNewYearsResolutionSoapBubbles1909

But how about picking a theme for your year? The Year of Friendship, the Debt-Free Year, the Year of Moving On?
This year I’m going with a theme of Finishing Well. I have so many unfinished things in my life; so many projects from so many years ago, and some of them hang round my neck like millstones. So this will be my year of Finishing, and Finishing Well. Time to start planning how I’m going to make that happen.

What about you? What are you Looking Forward to this year?

Venturing into the Darkness

Something terrible happened to me this week. Well, something wonderful which led to something terrible. I hit the 4,000 word mark on Monday (yay!) so I went to reward myself with a new exercise book (yay!) but the bookshop I go to didn’t have what I was looking for (oh noes!) so I had to venture into the darkness of the mall (the horror!).

"The nightmare before christmas"

No, the power wasn’t out – that was last year’s Christmas rush. It was brightly lit and full of people – a few too many for my tastes. (I do like people, I just don’t like them all at once…) It’s not even Advent yet and the commercial push for Christmas – or rather Xmas – is already well underway. Tinsel trees, fake snow (we seldom have snow here, and when we do, it’s usually August) and a thousand and one tacky forms of a fat man in red.

Santa Sack

I don’t think St Nicholas would be best pleased to find himself associated with such. After all, he wasn’t known for being an obese champion of conspicuous consumption.

He was known for helping people who were no longer able to help themselves – like the three young women facing a choice between prostitution and starvation. In an early ring-the-doorbell-and-run-away caper, he dropped a bag of gold down their chimney and legged it.

Much less dodgy than Santa Claus, who is not only more nosy than the NSA, but likes sneaking into people’s houses while they’re asleep.

st nicholas of myra

No-one in the mall seemed to be enjoying themselves (besides my brief transport of delight at finally finding what I was looking for) and I started to wonder why we do this to ourselves.
This year, instead of running ourselves ragged spending our hard-earned on stuff neither we nor the recipients particularly want, why not be Saint Nick for someone else?

Freeset specialize in giving women a choice other than prostitution or starvation – and if you really love giving gifts, they make a great range of bags and t-shirts.

The International Justice Mission works for those who are denied freedom and/or justice – victims of child prostitution, forced labour and many other forms of injustice.

We Can Save Lives, But Will We?

What better way to commemorate the birth of a baby into poverty and oppression, who defeated the oppressors not by violence, but by Doing Things Differently – and turning the world upside down?

What’s in it for me, you ask?
You get to avoid the mall.