Friday, January 1, 2016

Old Year’s Day or New Years Eve

Old Year’s Day or New Years Eve

Forty-Five years ago I spent my first New Year outside of the United States of America.  For me the Holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are times for family and friends, and I love being with them and sharing food and traditions.

As a missionary in England in 1970 I was serving in the North,  bordered by Wales on the west and Scotland on the north.  This meant that the traditions where I lived and worked were a mixture from all three.  

England celebrates the New Year from the evening of December 31st into January 1st. Traditionally, on the stroke of midnight, people open the back door (to let the old year out) and ask the first dark haired man to be seen to come through the front door carrying salt, coal and bread. This means that the following year everyone in the house will have enough to eat (bread), enough money (salt) and be warm enough (coal).  In Scotland and some places in northern England they call this first footing.  The first person to set foot in a residence in a New Year is thought to profoundly affect the fortunes of everyone who lives there. A dark haired stranger is thought to bring good luck.  In Wales, and I also heard this in Northern England, a red head would bring bad luck. (I was dark haired in 1970 but I wonder what I would bring today with my bald head.)  Many also say that if you pay off your debts in the old year you will be more prosperous in the New Year.

I think it is interesting that the people of England believe a stranger will bring them good luck.  In the Philippines we have never felt like strangers and that reminds me of the scripture in the New Testament where the Apostle Paul is writing to the Ephesians and he says:

 Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Everywhere you go as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints you are welcomed as a “fellow citizen with the saints”.  Saint means member and so we call all members of the church saints.  We have had so much fun in December celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ with the saints in the Philippines.  Never have we felt like foreigners.  The Philippines has become our home and we have loved celebrating the holidays of Christmas and New Years here.

So what will this year bring to you and your family?  I have never been a big New Years Resolution person and I am not going to start now but I would like to give some wishes for you and your family as I share some of my favorite thoughts and quotes.

Buy and wear an apron – a symbol of service.

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove…  But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a boy.”  Quote hanging on the wall in President Boyd K Packers office.

Anger is a decision.  People do not make you mad.  You do not loose your temper.

Happiness is a choice not a result.

“When we are through changing, we are through” President Boyd K. Packer

“We don’t marry perfection, we marry potential.”  Elder Robert D. Hales

“When you cannot do what you have always done then you do what matters most.”  Elder Robert D. Hales.

“It is my duty, it is yours, to be better today than I was yesterday, and for you to be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you were today.”  President Joseph Fielding Smith

“The thought is this: the Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces.  What it fixes is fixed. … The Atonement leaves no traces, no tracks.  It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”  President Boyd K. Packer

In Enoch’s city of Zion, the people “were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”  Moses 7:18

“Men are, that they might have joy.”  2 Nephi 2:25

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; … O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Read a good book this year.  Two of my favorites this year are:

To Draw Closer to God – Henry B. Eyring
Christ and the New Covenant – Jeffrey R. Holland

It has been quite a year this 2015, getting ready to leave on a mission, being gone for 7 months and serving the Lord and his saints in the Philippines.

I hope the New Year will bring you opportunities, challenges and successes that bring joy and happiness to you.  I hope that you will grow closer to your family and be there to support one another.  There is nothing more important than the love of family.  I hope you will all learn to have patience with one another, to know that differences are what make a family interesting.  Count the blessings you have and thank your Heavenly Father everyday for the blessing of being an eternal family that loves, supports and sustains one another.