All the pomp and circumstance are done. The decorations are down. Rich foods have been eaten. Resolutions have been made. And the New Year comes with such solemn severity. I know it’s supposed to be a fresh, new year, but somehow, I always find myself a little sad in the first few days of welcoming it in. I’m a girl who loves to live in nostalgia. So saying goodbye to family, packing up the Christmas records, and trading in sparkly outfits for oversized sweaters, so this year, I’ve been thinking about ways to welcome in a New Year with joy, tradition, and celebration, rather than mourning something lost.
We pack so much into the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that I often forget the great liturgical calendar that falls between January and Easter. This year, I’m making a point to pay notice to the lesser-known holidays. I don’t know about you, but my local market already had Valentine’s Day candy out. I’m not complaining about that, because I love February especially (birthday month AND Groundhog’s Day!), but let’s not skip right over the first month of a new year, shall we?
Today is Three King’s Day, or Epiphany. And for our Louisiana friends, Epiphany is the opening of Carnival season. I grew up Baptist, so for the most part, some of these rich theological traditions were lost on me, other than Christmas and Easter. A new friend and I have been discussing a little how to make the New Year significant, so I’m making an effort to incorporate these beautiful and memorable holidays into my personal life.
This year, I made it my goal to stave off those post-holiday blues by saving three small gifts, representative of the gift the three Magi brought the baby Christ. Just trinkets, I’ve still tried to make them symbolic of the visit to worship the Baby King. Here are a few ideas, in case you’d like to do the same. Perhaps these will be some of your most meaningful gifts given or received. With all the busyness and elaborate gifts of Christmas that get easily overlooked and swallowed up by the pageantry of it all, perhaps you can use this quieter day to reflect on the season just past.
Afterall, our modern nativities often have the Magi kneeling down at the manger, but in reality, it most likely took the Wise Men two years to follow the star and worship the baby Jesus. So I’m leaving the wreath on the door, and the nativity scene out just a bit longer, and maybe the garland can stay on the mantle. After all, we wait for so long for it to arrive, why rush it away so soon? Light a big fire in the fireplace and enjoy that last slice of fruitcake.
Perhaps sit with your little ones and make a three kingscraft? Or a paper crown to wear around today, to remind us of those kings. Hang this starry night mobile above their beds or this glass star above yours. Perhaps a relaxing bath with frankincense and myrrh soap, or writing new year letters, sealed with these gold wax seals? Take time to read the classic tale “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry or Twelfth Night aloud by Shakespeare.
Whatever you do, make sure to close down this holiday season in your life with meaning and reverence. Let’s not let it pass us by.