What is it about New Year's Day that fills me with an irrational feeling of hope? What do I think has changed between Thursday (2009) and Friday (2010)? What is so special about this day, this first day of the year?
If I didn't know what day it was, it would look exactly like any other winter day, except today is a rare day of sun in the middle of a Michigan Winter. The sun lights up the sparkling snow, lined with the blue shadows of bare trees. The sky is blue.
There is no traffic. Many of us are sleeping off our boozy celebrations. It is ten-thirty in the morning. Coffee is delicious. The dog snoozes on the couch. The cat peers out the patio slider. An airplane growls overhead and then all is quiet once again. The family is asleep upstairs.
Why does this day hold so much promise? What simple hopes do I have? To pay down a couple of bills, to run more often, to read and write more often. To shut up more often.
Somewhere in the past, someone figured out that the year is 365 days long, or thereabouts. That figure might be fixed by the earth's orbit of the sun, but the day on which we mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next is arbitrary. Why did they choose to start the calendar year in the dead of winter? To give us hope when Mother Nature is at her worse?
Spring follows winter, and it is good that it does, because the promise of spring's sunny days, melting snow, bare feet on warm pavement, rain, thunderstorms, shoots, buds and new grass can give one hope. It can give us comfort in the knowledge that spring follows winter, and that can be enough.
Someone decided that January would be a great time to start counting another batch of days. While each Sunday heralds the start of a new week, Sundays don't fill us with the hope that New Year's Day brings. We get a new month every thirty days or so but I for one do not get inspired by another round of bills, work and television.
But an entire New Year! Four seasons! We get spring rains and thunderstorms, long summer evenings with insect choruses, fall's falling leaves, new crayons for kids, football, and Thanksgiving, and finally, winter with Christmas and eventually, New Years Eve.
Again we start another year. Dick Clark forever! Dick Clark the Keeper of Time, Dick Clark the eternal emcee! Dick Clark, Dick Clark, Dick Clark forever!