Years ago, at the tender age of six, prompted by tales of New Year’s Eve excitement in New York’s Times Square, my son begged to be permitted to stay up and watch the ball drop. Amused by his enthusiasm, I agreed, and he expectantly plopped down in front of the television, hot cocoa in hand, and fought to remain awake to witness the beginning of a brand, new year. My son giddily counted down the seconds along with the television host; the glittering ball descended. People cheered in the streets of New York. The New Year had arrived!
My son was not impressed.
“That’s it?” He asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “That’s it. What were you expecting?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “Something, not this. This was nothing.”
That night, my son learned a life-lesson: not everything is all it’s cracked up to be. And that about sums up my regard for New Year’s.
Obviously, I am not one for singing Auld Lang Syne and toasting the new year as though it’s some glittering broom that will magically sweep away the old and usher in all things bright and beautiful. Life has kicked me in the teeth enough to know there’s no such thing as a clean slate. New Year’s resolutions are nothing more than good intentions that set us up for failure. If truth be told, we are all just as tarnished on the first day of a new year as we were on the last day of the old. No resolution or lavish crystal ball in Times Square will change that fact.
Frankly, as 2020 emerges, I am dismayed. As I look back on 2019, I feel somewhat as my son did on New Year’s Eve so many years ago.
“That’s it?” I ask the Universe. “That’s the great, shiny new year promised on New Year’s Eve, 2018? If so, 2019 certainly wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.”
A new year never is.
As author Sylvia Plath said in The Bell Jar, “If you expect nothing (from somebody) you are never disappointed.” Thus, the cynic in me refrains from making resolutions or gazing too far ahead, but I am not so jaded that I deny hope. To me, New Year’s Eve hoopla isn’t an opportunity to party and drink my friends under the table. Rather, New Year’s is a reminder to put one foot in front of the other and keep going; it’s a call to reflect and to learn from what has passed, to hope and to pray to do better.
Perhaps the cynic has made a resolution after all.
Here comes another year, folks. May 2020 be for you all it’s cracked up to be.