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Thank you, God, for a new year

Our younger son was turning 3, and he was so excited for his birthday. As he opened each package, his eyes would light up and he would say the same words. He talked so quickly that it took me a few times to realize what he was saying.

Finally I figured it out. He was saying, “Just what I like!”

It didn’t matter whether the gift was a toy car or a book or a box of cereal. He appreciated each with the same joy and enthusiasm, expressing his gratitude for the item he found under the wrapping paper – even if he wasn’t exactly sure what it was.

Just what I like.

I’m thinking of that excitement as we begin to peel back the gift wrap on 2021. This past year was not what we expected. It brought a global pandemic that shut down our communities and moved us into a virtual world. The pandemic made it harder to connect with people in person and complicated our lives.

As we prepare to begin 2021, we are hoping this new year brings a fresh and happier page that perhaps takes us back to a more normal world where we are able to connect and reconnect with others. We have many hopes for this new year. We hope it will be just what we like.

We know, of course, that not everything will immediately change for the better at the stroke of midnight Jan. 1. A pandemic doesn’t melt away like a blizzard does, and we don’t know the long-term effects – or how quickly life will return to what we remember as normal. We will carry some of the impact with us forever.

Still, it’s important for us to meet this new year with hopeful joy, expectancy and grateful hearts. We don’t know that it will be an easier year. This year may have twists and turns that will make us look back wistfully on 2020. We can be sure, however, that the months ahead will hold their own joys, peace and extraordinary moments – just as every year does.

No matter what 2021 brings, it will be full of its own gifts. God will be walking beside us the whole time – perhaps even carrying us – through the most difficult experiences and the ones that we will cherish forever.

We can certainly greet this new year with openness and excitement, thanking God in advance for a new beginning, new opportunities and a chance for renewal for ourselves, for our families, and for communities. As we pray and look ahead to 2021, we might find that the start of this new year is calling us to set aside anxieties and trust that God will continue to hold us in his hand.

“Worry is a weakness from which very few of us are entirely free,” said Blessed Solanus Casey. “We must be on guard against this most insidious enemy of our peace of soul. Instead, let us foster confidence in God, and thank him ahead of time for whatever he chooses to send us.”

Thank you for today, God, and for tomorrow – the days ahead we have yet to unwrap and discover. Whatever these days bring, we know you are giving us abundant blessings, walking with us with your love, filling us with hope for a beautiful future.

Thank you for a new year – a year where you are ready to meet us and accompany us through whatever lies ahead. It’s just what I like.

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