A scene from one of my favourite Christmas cartoons depicts the homecoming of the lost baby New Year after Rudolph’s quest to find him. New Years has always meant for me and most others a time for reflection, and also a time to start fresh. It’s usually also a time for celebration.
I’ve celebrated New Years in many ways. One of my most memorable was a New Years Eve I spent in New York City several years ago when I was living on the east coast of the United States. Instead of going to Times Square, we participated in a fun run around the perimeter of Central Park that started at midnight. I ran it with a group of friends who had all converged on New York for the occasion from many other parts of the country. The energy everywhere in New York on New Years Eve is incredible. It was one of those moments that will always be frozen in time for me. My celebrations now are usually more mundane; last year it was a few of us at an old friend’s (from my high school days) home, and a few drinks. For some of the past few New Years Eves, I’ve celebrated the occasion in a sweat lodge ceremony, a custom with some First Nations peoples.
As I think on the topic of New Years in the context of what I usually write about here, Christian Science, I think about the Christian Science views on anniversaries in general. Like many other topics in relation to Christian Science, this one is also a weird one, and views and opinions among Christian Scientists are all over the spectrum. Many the hard-core Christian Scientist will not celebrate birthdays, or in some cases any sort of anniversary at all. They view this as some sort of limitation on “man” (the generic sense of “man”). Many children have grown up in Christian Scientist homes sadly never really celebrating their birthdays. Some of my Christian Scientist friends will wish me a “happy ‘special’ day” instead of “happy birthday” on my Facebook wall on my birthday. I honestly don’t really care what anyone says, but it is my birthday, after all. However, there are many Christian Scientists (myself included when I was one) who do happily celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Mary Baker Eddy (the woman who got Christian Science started) herself celebrated the birthdays of close friends, and often sent gifts and greetings. The non-celebration of birthdays and anniversaries among some Christian Scientists is yet another of many weird perversions that have evolved within the Christian Science movement over the years.
As I see it, age is just a number, and you’re as old or young as you feel and act. Some days, I feel like I’m twice my age, other days I feel like a kid. Most days, I feel like what I am, a mid 40-something man, earning a wage, and trying to keep my head above water. I say “happy birthday” to whomever is having a birthday, be they Christian Scientist or not. The passage of time is a part of life. Deny it all you want, it still happens.