Sunday, January 2, 2011
So a New Year's Begins - 2011
In a moment of inspired (ha! Incipit.) television, they dropped Snooki, Sloppi, Slutti, whatever her name is, inside a ball for the ten-second count down to midnight. Despite plunging from the fearful height of about six feet, she survived. As entertainment it didn't.
2011 doesn't seem much improved over 2010 today for the staging of that particular stunt and all the other forced hoopla of New Year's Eve. Perhaps it would have been a small splash in the right direction if they had dropped her in the ocean and watched her float out to sea. A new year without Snooki and the whole "South Jersey" cast would be cause for celebration.
In case you haven't sensed it, I am very over the whole New Year's thing. The photograph was taken at midnight in the early 1970s. The Little Woman and I would spend the period just after Christmas in the Poconos. We and a group of friends would chip in to rent a cabin (more a lodge, really, since it had ten bedrooms) and spend a week having fun sledding and skating and enjoying each other's company. It would culminate on New Year's Eve and after New Year's Day we would all return to our normal worlds. Most of those in the gang were Social Workers or spouses of Social Workers. Mostly these people were long time friends of The Little Woman or friends of these friends.
Those were good New Year's celebrations because they were really celebrations of friendships.
But New Year's for New Year's sake seems very empty and artificial to me. I'm not sure that lighting up the sky with fireworks while millions of people get lit up on alcohol is really a new beginning.
For me, the real New Year and the real sense of refreshing one's hopes and goals has always come in September. No specific day in September, just the time around Labor Day. I would guess many people in this country get that same feeling. It isn't hard to understand why, although I imagine for some it is a month of melancholy instead, those who grieve the end to summer.
School started in September. At least it traditionally did until more recent years, when those we call educators and I call failures, dictated an earlier start, as if that would do anything less than extend the time they had to demonstrate their inability to teach. But that is a subject for more serious postings.
My parents sent me to Kindergarten at age four. Therefore and forward, my next thirteen years began in September. Actually this September as a new beginning really didn't end with high school graduation. Two years after that I was married in September and so for coming up 50 years we were always celebrating that in September.
Then when I was twenty-two I went to evening college. I went to three colleges over the next 20 years (all in evening class) and although I did an occasional summer session, the school year still began in September.
I was hired at The Bank, my longest continuing employer, in September 1980, and since you were evaluated and received any raise in salary on your yearly anniversary, September remained the marker of a new year for me. After a time the date was further marked by ceremony. After so many years you received a service pin, a handshake and usually a cake, another marker of an era ending and new one beginning. At least for 21 years, after that I was forced to retire, also in September, which at the moment it happened felt a bit as if time had ended.
Yet time goes on and although there is no more school years starting nor anymore hire-day anniversaries in September it still remains the real New Year for me. Even if my wedding anniversary didn't fall in that month, this would still be so just out of habit.