Hope In A Jar

This is a story about New Year’s Eve. Sort of.

I have this tradition where I pray and ask God for a word, picture, verse, or *something* to mark the coming year. I’m not even really sure how or when I started doing this. It just happened one year and has continued ever since. And while I don’t fool myself to thinking I’ve got a Joan of Arc situation going on here, I do believe that God answers me. Always there is a single word or concept, an image or vision, or some combination of those, that comes to mind. Always the answer gives me an anchor point for the year that I keep going back to. And always – ALWAYS – the answer ends up being exactly right.

You thought I was going to tell you what it is this year, didn’t you? I can’t. I don’t know it yet.

Instead let’s talk about Christmas. Had enough? I know I have. I love Christmas. But it falls short. Because we set it so apart and put it in a package called Advent, wrap it up with our traditions, and we wait expectantly for that moment when the entire season comes to a grand moment of faith opened wide and shining bright as the star that brought the wise men to Jesus. Maybe that happens. Maybe it doesn’t. What does happen every year is the day after Christmas and then, now what?

Is it just me? Am I failing at Christmas or something here? Don’t get me wrong. When I took down my tree there was so much joy in my heart that you’d think Christmas was coming back for seconds. So it’s not that I want to keep it all up and try to extend the holiday season indefinitely.

When I was a kid, Christmas was over and that was that. Back to real life and Happy New Year.

When I became a Christian, it switched. Christmas was over and Jesus remained. Christmas can get put back in boxes, but Christ is in my heart. It’s almost a relief for it all to just quiet down and go away, much as I love every single thing about it. Just give me Jesus.

So at some point I started praying after Christmas for these New Year’s revelations, and God started giving them to me. And I anticipate this quietly throughout all that is the holiday season. What does God want for the coming year? What is He working in me? Through me? This hitting the reset button on New Year’s is as close as I can bring myself to making resolutions.

Last year, we involved our children. We stayed home and rang in the year being entertained with a talent show, eating take out, and then we put our hopes for the year in a jar.
This jar:

hope in a jar

The jar holds tiny pieces of paper on which we wrote down our family’s wishes, hopes, and prayers for 2013. It’s been sitting quietly on our shelf, untouched, ever since. Glenn and I have both confessed to each other that we are oh so tempted to crack it open and read what we wrote down, but we are grown ups with self-control (hah!) so we are waiting like kids for Santa on Christmas Eve, to open it tomorrow night. Our children will be putting on their now annual talent show. They are downstairs with the magic trick set I gave them so that I could write in peace, practicing their acts right now. We will probably be eating Chinese Food. And we will be writing down new wishes and hopes and prayers, for a new year.

The kids on New Year's Eve last year.
The kids on New Year’s Eve last year.

Then yesterday I saw this picture going around Facebook. It’s a picture of a jar with instructions to write down all of the good things that happen in a year and put them in the jar, to be opened and remembered on New Year’s Eve. So we are expanding our jar. We’ll add the good things, the prayers, the questions, the things that happen. We are definitely going to need a bigger boat jar for 2014.

I don’t know how Christmas was for you this year. Maybe it filled you to overflowing with peace, joy, and wonder. Maybe it was a time of strengthening your faith. Or not. Maybe you are missing someone or something, or maybe your heart is just not in it. Or hell, maybe you don’t even celebrate Christmas at all! Whatever this season is or was, or should have been but wasn’t – I am praying a prayer of hope for you. Hope in a jar. Hope in your heart. Hope for 2014.

Happy New Year.

ps: I think I did get my answer from God for this year as I wrote this. But I’m still not telling.

copyright (c) 2013 Jenna Pelias // all rights reserved

3 thoughts on “Hope In A Jar

  1. I’m thinking we’re going to do something like that here. At least, the blessings jar thing. Or journal it instead. I don’t know.

    It would be fun to fill a journal or two each year, I think!


  2. We have a Thanksgiving journal too! We write down what we’re thankful for together each year on Thanksgiving. It’s only been a couple years since we started it, but I look forward to reading it in 10 years and being able to look back on everything with our kids when they’re old enough to understand more. I think we’re going to put the little pieces of note paper from our New Year’s jar into the journal and just keep adding to as we go.


  3. We have a similar jar tradition in our family, but the opening of the jar takes place on Thanksgiving. We spend the year writing down thoughts every time God answers a prayer, or we have something to be thankful for. Then on Thanksgiving, our immediate family, my husband’s parents and his brother and his wife all open our jars and read our notes aloud. It’s a cool idea!


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