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OUT TO PASTOR: What’s new about a New Year?

On New Year’s Eve, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were celebrating in our living room with some hot apple cider.

We wanted to end the year together. At our age, with so many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, that’s a tough agenda. We love all our family, but sometimes it is just good to be by ourselves.

As we were sipping our hot apple cider, we heard the roar of fireworks around our neighborhood. We listened to it and chuckled as we leaned back in our chairs, enjoying the time together.

I must confess that this past year was filled with all kinds of things. It is hard to define what a “thing” is these days. Time, however, has a way of bouncing along without any indication of stopping.

As we were coming to the end of our hot apple cider, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage looked over at me and said, “Happy New Year.”

How she said it caused me to believe she was anticipating a “New Year.”

Even though it’s another year, I still am who I am, so I looked at her and said very seriously, “What’s so new about this coming New Year?”

I surprised her, and she did not understand what I was saying. She looked at me and said, “Well, it will be 2024 and not 2023. I’m sure you can see how that’s new?”

I took a deep sip of my hot apple cider, looked at her, and said, “I’ve looked at the calendar for the year 2024, and all of the months are the same as they were in 2023. Every month has the same seven week days and each of those days have 24 hours. What in the world is new about that?”

She looked at me as though I was a bit crazy. Of course, she did know how to respond to my question.

“Maybe, just maybe this New Year will be the year that you get a little bit mature.”

I was a little confused because I didn’t quite know what she was talking about. I thought about what she said and responded, “I’m as mature as I ever want to be.”

I couldn’t help but think of the time we went out to a restaurant to celebrate my last birthday. As we finished our meal, she looked at me and said, “So, how does it feel to be old?”

Without thinking, which is my MO, I reached across the table, took hold of her upper arm, gently squeezed it, looked at her, and said, “Old is feeling just fine.”

Then, I did one of the dumbest things I have done throughout my life. I looked at her and said, “What do you think I need to do to improve my maturity?”

I think she set me up for that question.

“Well,” she said with one of her infamous grins, “maybe you could improve your listening ability this New Year. You just don’t listen when I say things and I have to repeat them over and over again.”

“What did you say?” I asked.

“That’s exactly what I mean. You may hear what I’m saying but you don’t listen to what I am saying. Maybe this year you could practice listening a little more.”

I almost asked, but I didn’t, what she would recommend that I do to practice listening. I’m sure she had an agenda there.

She was not finished.

“Also, you could improve your memory. You forget so many things and I have to remind you of them all the time. Maybe you could do something to improve that part of your maturity.”

Those two things would take up my whole year, and I would have no time to do anything else. I was so afraid she would have a number three on her list.

Then it came, “And thirdly, maybe you could do something about your snoring at night. You snore so loud every night that sometimes it wakes me up.”

I’m not sure how I can do all three things in one year, but that was the recommendation from The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.

As I sat in my chair sipping some hot apple cider, I thought about these things, and then, she had something else to say.

“And there’s another thing you could do,” she said with a very serious perspective in her voice, “you could tell me some things I need to do to improve my maturity.”

That caught me by surprise, I didn’t see it coming. How I respond to her statement will determine how happy my life will be in this next New Year.

I just looked at her, smiled, and said, “My dear, you are the most perfect person I know, and I could never think of anything that you need to do that would improve your maturity.”

She just looked at me and smiled.

It’s not very often that I get out of a mess, but I think I got out of this one. Let’s see how long this lasts.

Thinking on this, I thought of Ecclesiastes 1:9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

What more can be said?


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone is (352) 216-3025, e-mail is, and website is

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