Thursday, January 1, 2009

So It Begins

2009! Woo-hoo!

People get so excited about a new year, and frankly, I don't really get it. For me it's just the next day. January first? It's no different than August twelfth or February twenty-third. Why not declare October first a holiday and take it off from work? It's the first day of the new fiscal year, so why not fuss over that? We have a lot of ridiculous "holidays" but most of the holidays we actually get time off of work over are days that have some real historical or national significance. New Year's Day? Um... no. Just a conjured, non-event that we try to put stock in as being some sort of new beginning, or a harbinger. It's Omen Day or something.

We tend to place too much emphasis on all of it's little traditions. One of the local traditions when I was growing up was to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to assure prosperity and a good new year. How weird is that? And how about this one: "Whatever you're doing at the stroke of midnight is what you'll do all year." Maybe I'll give everyone I know a one hundred dollar bill during the day on December thirty-first so that I can invite them all to my house that night, and have them hand it back to me at midnight. That way people will be giving me money all year! What if I were overly intoxicated and passed out draped over a toilet in a public place? Do I have to stay there now for the rest of the year? What if my watch was off just a bit, and I decided to run to the bathroom quickly before the witching hour, but upon returning to the highly over-rated festivities, I realized that I'd missed it, and in fact I was urinating at the stroke of twelve?

This whole business of the New Year's resolution is a lazy notion. One day per year we must stop and pay attention to the things in our lives that we know are not good and we should be doing something about, make a solemn resolution to change these things knowing full well and even planning to break them, and then we don't have to think about it again for another year! Wow! What a deal! And some of these same people think Catholicism is odd for it's confession and absolution doctrine. Maybe the party was our penance.

Yes, the New Year's Eve Party! Back when I attended such things, I remember all of the preparations and expectation that swirled around the grand event. What will I wear? Who will I go with? Hair? Nails? Heels or flats? Brewski or the hard stuff? The affair was never as wonderful as your expectations demanded that it be, and usually the morning after held many regrets and uncomfortable reminders about how short it actually fell.

Why do we even celebrate such a mundane thing? Because it offers us hope. We want so badly to be able to start over. We long to have a new beginning because we know we are desperately in need of one. We want it so badly that we set aside a day every year to give us that starting point even though we know through and through that it means absolutely nothing. It's just the next day. It will never live up to the expectations placed on it, because it can't. The problem isn't the celebration, the party, the expectations or the day, it's us.

In our hearts we know we need to start over, have another chance, because we've done so many things and made so many bad decisions and mistakes. Not only can we not fix them, but we know in our hearts that we're bound to do more of the same, and no resolution is sound enough, no amount of determination strong enough to keep us from failing again.

"New Day" should be "the event" and not new year's day. We wouldn't leave a festering wound with a lick and a promise for an entire year or it would kill us, but we ignore the things of our hearts because they are unseen and can be temporarily put out of our minds as well. Rest assured, they will surface again, and they are as critical as any wound to your flesh. Contrary to popular beliefs, you aren't strong if you ignore it, hide it, and cowboy up, nor are you "dealing with it" by bemoaning it all and rehearsing it to your friends or your therapist. That's only coping, which is just a socially acceptable way to say you're keeping it, but you're trying to manage the damage it causes.

God has a better plan. He can take it and you can move on and be free without it. Sound better?

Each day is a gift from God, and His mercy is new every morning. Now that's a reason to get excited. From day to day, every day, our God and Father is with us, is willing, and is well able to heal whatever ails us and give us the new beginning that we need and crave. All we have to do is learn to walk in a trusting relationship with Him, and He sent His Only Begotten Son to show us how. What a promise! What a trade off! What an adventure!

Ask me how I know!

Maybe that's why I just don't get it about New Year's Day.

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