What’s that? Happy New Year? Aren’t you four months late on that one? Perhaps, but consider the following:
Granted, we celebrate an event we have labelled New Year’s, flipping the calendar from December to January. We engage in much revelry and, dare I say, debauchery as we put our final stamp on the old before ushering in the new.
Other cultures may have a different idea of when this happens. The Chinese, for example, celebrate New Year’s at the end of the 12th lunar cycle, during the first new moon between January 21 and February 20; for them it marks the end of winter and the approach of spring. It is traditional for every family to thoroughly clean the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Festivities can last as long as 15 days.
Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) occurs 163 days after the first day of Passover, and falls between September 5 and October 5, again depending on the lunar cycle. It lasts for two days and involves, among other things, much blowing of horns.
On the liturgical Christian calendar of services, New Year’s begins with the first Sunday of Advent, four weeks before Christmas. For many, it is an introspective time of preparing hearts, souls and minds for the birth of our Savior.
Thinking about our New Year’s, what is a big tradition for most of those who observe it? The New Year’s ‘resolutions’: an ethereal, esoteric list of things we apparently are doing wrong and which we hope to correct or improve over the next 365 days. I submit that, although well-intentioned, without a significant amount of discipline (that most of us, if we’re honest, don’t possess) resolutions are nearly always ill-fated. There are exceptions: my wife, four New Year’s past, resolved to give up diet soda because of the health detriments and has stuck to it (but again, there’s that discipline factor, along with much encouragement from and accountability to her loving husband).
Me? I would never resolve, for example, to start eating better on January 1, knowing full well that I’ve still got leftovers from Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the fridge plus (immense chocolate lover that I am) two major holidays involving candy yet to come. No, a much better time for self-examination comes on this day, my birthday, the day when the ‘calendar’ is truly flipped to being a new year. I offer to you, dear reader, that the same principle could apply to you, if you really think about it honestly.
Last year, as I turned 50, I wanted some changes in my life. To that end, I joined a service organization (Lion’s Club) and started this blog. As I had been in a major lull, I resolved to write more music. I also made the usual ‘resolutions’ to eat better, exercise more, and get upset less. I score myself about a 45 out of 100 on this list: I have written more notes in the last year than probably since college. I think I get upset less, but I’m not really the person to judge that for myself, and being a school bus driver with the majority of my load being 10-12 year olds, well, that really tests the patience of an INTJ personality. The eating thing? Still working on that…
What are my goals for this year? Writing more in my blog, and, as I used to be an avid reader, reading more. Of course, there’s always eating better, exercising more and getting upset less. I’ll let you know how it’s going next New Year’s Day (for me, April 30)! I encourage you, dear reader, to use YOUR birthday as a more realistic roadmap to examining your life and implementing changes you see as necessary.
Thank you, my readers, for your support. Remember to support the arts and music education, study to show yourself approved, and be kind and generous to others.