"Do you have plans for New Year's?"
Oh, that annoying question!
My response is always the same. "Uh...no."
The revelation that I don't "do" New Year's invariably draws quizzical looks. I suppose I could explain my disinterest in New Year's festivities with a flippant "been there, done that" remark, or blame it on my inability to keep my middle aged eyes open passed ten o'clock at night, but that's only part of the story. The truth is that I see no reason for special New Year's celebrations.
When my youngest was six or seven years old, he pleaded with me to allow him to stay up to ring in the New Year, and watch the ball drop in Times Square. He had never seen the famous orb, so I agreed. When the countdown commenced, he sat upright expectantly.
The ball came down.
For a moment, my son said nothing. Then he turned to me, and said: "That's it? That's the ball? What's the big deal?"
Exactly! What's the big deal?
For many, New Year's Eve is an excuse to party and drink themselves silly, or bang pots in the street, and set off firecrackers. When the celebration ends, our well-intentioned resolutions to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, go back to school, be more patient, be better, are discarded as quickly as the confetti in Times Square.
Of course, the ball dropping extravaganza is not without historical significance. The original iron and wood ball that first descended from a flagpole at Times Square has evolved along with society. In 2008, the 100th anniversary of the event, the Waterford crystal ball, with state of the art LED lighting effects, will be the brightest ever. A lovely vision that will create a lovely memory, I'm sure. But it doesn't change a thing. The clock ticks forward. 2008 slips away. 2009 begins. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are just days; they do not have a monopoly on new beginnings. As clichéd as it sounds, each and every day presents an opportunity to begin anew, to be better than we were yesterday.
When New Year's rolls around, go ahead and drink champaign, crowd into Times Square, bang pots in the street. And remember to celebrate life each day thereafter.