I’ve never really celebrated New Year’s because it doesn’t mean that much to me and it’s a relatively arbitrary date. The calendar numbers change, but that’s all. It’s certainly not a universal new beginning. The Chinese New Year this year is on January 22, the Jewish New Year is on September 15, the Tibetan New Year begins on February 21. Various other cultures celebrate their new year on completely different dates.
January 1 is not even the beginning of a new season or of a solar cycle such as a solstice or an equinox. Nor is there any personal demarcation — no black line separates the old from the new. The world is no different today from yesterday, nor are we. We carry the old year with us because we have the same problems, sadnesses, hopes, fears.
Despite all that, last night when the fireworks awakened me at midnight, I felt relieved that the old year was done with and a new year was beginning.
Oddly, 2022 wasn’t that bad. In fact, a lot of it was good, though there were no major milestones to celebrate or times of especial gladness. Still, at midnight, there was that catharsis of letting go of the old.
Perhaps it would have been the same as every other year — just a mild annoyance at being awakened by the fireworks — but yesterday was rather unsettling. I’d accepted an invitation to spend the afternoon with some friends, but somehow the guest list changed to be more of an extended family gathering (their family, not mine), and no one told me. I didn’t feel comfortable — too many people in too confined a space, too many people I had nothing in common with, and too many more chances of catching one of the diseases going around. If I had known about the change ahead of time, I could have graciously made my excuses, but I didn’t find out until I was there. Since it would have been rude for me to turn around and leave, I stayed.
Some of it was nice, some not so nice, and the rest, just . . . ho hum.
In retrospect, it seems a fitting end to yesteryear. Some of the year was nice — I truly did enjoy seeing things grow, but the work did get hard to do, especially with my wonky knees. I also feel bad about my spate of compassion fatigue — it didn’t seem right to just drop people and stop my daily blogging because I couldn’t handle any more grief, mine or anyone else’s, but I didn’t see any other recourse. The rest of the year was unmemorable. To be honest, now that I’m looking back, I don’t know if it was truly unmemorable or if I simply didn’t remember a lot of what happened. (Though perhaps that’s the same thing? Anything memorable that happened would probably have been remembered, right?)
I don’t know what I expect of this year, but I am going into it with the attitude that it is new. A time not to start over so much as to start fresh. Today, when the year has just begun it seems sparkling with promise, as if anything could happen. I’m trying not to let the gray day or my normal realism dim the promise. And who knows — it could be a very good year, not just for me, but for you, too.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.