The thrill of hope,

The weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

After a thoughtlessly haphazard conversation about Christmas I had this weekend, I walked away disappointed in myself for being so cynical. As sarcastic as I am, I am no cynic at heart.

Even though I love to make jokes about how much I hate Elf on the Shelf and why Krampus is so much better, this is one of my favorite times of the year.

It’s not about the decorations, traditions, or the constant barrage of tacky Christmas music. It’s not about finding the perfect present for someone or taking adorable family photos or decorating trees. None of that matters to me in the end.

What I love most about this season is the thrill of hope that it brings.

Whether you’re celebrating Santa Claus, the birth of Christ, Hanukkah, or the Solstice, it’s all about hope.

Hope for salvation, miracles, and new life.

Hope compels you.

Hope guides you.

Hope inspires you.

Hope protects you.

Hope strengthens you.

Without it, we are nothing and aspire to nothing. We forget to love one another and see the good in the world. Without hope, we forget that we are capable of extraordinary things.

So instead of fighting my way through crowded stores and knocking out my shopping list, I am going to hold dear in my heart that thrill of hope I get when I think about the coming New Year and all of the adventures and beautiful things it holds.

I will remember to be thankful for every beautiful sunrise and sunset and all of the moments in between. I will remember to be kinder and more loving and more forgiving. I will remember to serve without expectations. I will remember to take more chances and to live more intentionally.

Those are also my hopes  for all of my family and friends who helped me through this year, and reminded me that this world is still amazing and beautiful and that keeping that thrill of hope alive is worth the fight.