The last week of the year always does something to me. My to-do list, already full of things that need done, is suddenly bursting with exciting beginning-of-year tasks: get the new planner rolling, update the finance folders, clear off the desk and put away this year’s stuff.

It’s still Christmas, and the kids wake up each morning and pound downstairs, excited to see what’s in their stocking. (They get three gifts on Christmas Day, then a gift in their stocking for each of the 12 days of Christmas.) I try keep the decorations up until at least Epiphany Sunday, so the glow of Christmas tree lights fills the middle room when I’m up by myself (or with the baby) in the early morning hours.

And oh, I love resolutions…in a love-hate kind of way. This year, instead of making a list, I focused on one word. It’s funny how the word that came to me was “peace,” and this has been a year that’s needed a lot of it: unexpected death, health challenges on many levels, and a new baby.

Last night, I thought of how, at the beginning of this year, I wondered what the point of my life was, what God wanted me to do…with my writing, with my work at the parish, with life in general. The year started very upside-down and topsy-turvy with an unexpected death and severe health concerns in our family. But, looking back over the whole year, I do feel like I got a very clear answer from God. It wasn’t all in one sentence, but I think it’s safe to say that, while I still pray daily for guidance and direction, I have a pretty good idea of what He has in mind for me (in a general sort of sense…the specifics always seem to be up in the air, much to my prefer-to-be-planned dismay).

I’m ending this year with the beginning very much in mind, though it’s through a different lens. The fog of pain has given way to an ache, one that’s always with me but that also has given me a new perspective. I would have never guessed, at the beginning of the year, that I would be holding an infant when I rang in 2011 or that I would have not one, but two book deals as well as a few writing projects on the back burner. I couldn’t have foreseen the joys that this year brought, even amid the pain and the tears.

As we end 2010, I’m in the midst a novena to Our Lady of Sorrows. This has been the year that she has become a patron for our family, I think. This has been the year that I’ve turned to Mama Mary and gripped her hand and let her carry us. This has been the year that I’ve come to appreciate suffering (though I won’t say I like it, that I’m good at it, or that I don’t do a fair share of shaking my fist and complaining about it).

I can’t help but look at the upcoming year, with its blank slate of opportunity and possible pain, with some wonder. How did we make it through 2010? What does 2011 hold? Do I want to know?

What shall I resolve for 2011? I like the idea of one word (it was easy to remember, for one thing), and I think I’m going to approach it that way again. But what word?

What are your resolutions for 2011? Do you have one word or a list?