Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Change of Heart

A wintry picture from last year, because I can't post without a picture,
and I haven't taken any good snow pictures yet.

If you know me well at all, you've probably heard me say that New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are my least-favorite holidays, second only to the dreaded Halloween. In the past, I've been really down on celebrating the turn of a new year, for all the predictable reasons. It's arbitrary, it's always a letdown, it comes with the inevitable dread that accompanies the ends of weekends, vacations, and holidays. (A former boyfriend called this sense of dread the "60 Minutes Stomachache" -- that yucky feeling you get when the 60 Minutes stopwatch starts ticking and you realize that tomorrow is Monday.) Yadda yadda yadda.

On the other hand, you probably also know that my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I've been thinking today that, for all the reasons that I love Thanksgiving, I should also love New Year's Day.
  • Thanksgiving happens in winter. At least where I live, winter has generally arrived -- meteorologically, if not astronomically -- by the waning weeks of November. And I love winter. It is my favorite season by far. New Year's Day is even better, because it occurs in the deepest, darkest part of the season, when the nights are longest and the air is coldest.

  • Thanksgiving is all about doing nothing. Other than preparing a lot of food (see below), there's nothing to do on Thanksgiving. No gifts to buy or wrap, no decorations to hang. In my family, it's largely a day to sit around, watch parades and/or football on TV, eat, and perhaps play some board games. New Year's Day is exactly the same. By this time, all the stress-inducing preparations are behind you, allowing you to heave a giant sigh of relief. The only difference on New Year's is you get better football and a better parade.

  • Thanksgiving is about being with family. Admittedly, for everyone, this is not a good thing. Luckily for me, it is. And the same is true of New Year's Day.

  • Thanksgiving involves a lot of really good food. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie -- good stuff indeed. But in my family, we have a traditional New Year's dinner too: pork roast and sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and -- most importantly -- black-eyed peas. Woe to the one who fails to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, for they bring good luck and prosperity. And it's all extremely yummy, as I can attest, having just enjoyed a boatload of same.

  • Thanksgiving is a beginning. I've always liked the fact that Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season. It feels like the start of something very happy and good. So, why no love for New Year's Day? It's the ultimate beginning! It's the ultimate fresh start!

This year, I had a really great New Year's Eve and Day. Last night, I went to the movies with Preeti and her husband (we saw Juno, very highly recommended). Afterwards, we went to a New Year's Eve party. As the clock struck twelve, we all stood outside with sparklers and champagne to welcome in 2008. It seemed to me an optimistic and lovely thing, to stand with bright sparkly lights and equally sparkly drinks against the dark and cold, and wish each other well in the year to come. Today, my boys and I colored pictures and built a fort and generally lazed about, watching the yard fill up with the softest, billowiest snow. In the afternoon, my parents came and we had the aforementioned New Year's dinner, which I prepared after deciding this morning that I really needed to celebrate this day properly. My very first day of 2008 could not have been better or happier.

I've had a change of heart. New Year's is now officially on my Favorite Holidays List. At the start of my new year, I even adopted a new motto. Minty left me the sweetest comment on my beret post, in which she said that my photo reminded her of the rallying cry from Friday Night Lights: "Clear eyes, full hearts ... CAN'T LOSE!"* I love that so much, and because I am such a dork, I wrote it on little cards and stuck it to my fridge and my bathroom mirror. Surely it's a sentiment that bears remembering as I start my days.

And, so, to you friends, who mean more to me than my pitiful lack of emails and the like convey, I wish you clear eyes, full hearts, and the very Happiest New Year.


* I don't watch this show, which I know is a tragic oversight on my part. I plan to rectify this.