I’ve never put emphasis on a new year because it’s an arbitrary date. The calendar numbers change, but that’s all. It’s not even a universal new beginning. The Chinese New Year this year is on February 10, the Jewish New Year is on September 4, the Persian New Year is March 21, the Korean New Year is February 2, the Tibetan New Year begins on March 5, and various communities in the Hindu religion have different dates —March 22, April 13, April 14, April 15, August 17, October 18.
January 1 is not even the beginning of a new seasonal cycle. And it doesn’t begin at the same time for all people. (So when did my New Year begin? At midnight in the city of my birth, or midnight in the city where I am presently residing?) Nor is there any personal demarcation — no black line separates the old from the new. You carry the old year with you because you have the same problems, sadnesses, hopes, fears. In other words, you are still you.
There is a newness to January 1, though, and that is the newness of a new day. Unlike the year, each day truly is a new beginning. You wake up, and for a second everything is untouched — like new-fallen snow — and you almost believe you can be anyone you want to be, do anything you want to do. Then the truth hits you.
Still, there’s hope, so I make daily resolutions instead of yearly ones. I have a list of a dozen do’s and don’ts that I would follow in a perfect world. I’m lucky to do about half of them each day, but it varies. Two days ago I did only a couple. Yesterday I did all but two. Today, of course, I resolve to follow everything on my list. The list includes such things as weight lifting and stretching, walking, writing, blogging, promoting, eating a big salad, drinking lots of water, staying away from sugar and wheat. As I said, in a perfect world . . .
Despite that, I did toast this New Year, more as a symbol of newness than the reality of it. I’ve learned that I have to make something important every day. And toasting the New Year seemed as good as anything to importantize. (Yeah, I know — there’s no such word as importantize, but just for today — this new day — there is.)
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”