One of my coworkers was a bit down this week after the Christmas holiday and when I asked her about it, she said the new year always filled her with regret because it meant looking back and being reminded of another year of missed opportunities.
I think it’s sad that anyone should feel that way about what I think of as a “second chance”. January 1st is my opportunity to make a whole new set of resolutions and to set different goals based on last year’s successes and failures.
When I went to grade school, the last day before Christmas break was the day we had our holiday party. It was also the day that we cleaned out our desks of broken crayons, and papers and brought home all of our books to make new covers from the heavy brown bags that grocery stores used back then.
At the end of the school day, our teacher would change our seat assignments, splitting up the chatty girls and mischievous boys from the previous term. We would then have an opportunity to try out the new seat (while she finalized her seating chart) and see who the new neighbors were. She passed around damp rags and paper towels for us to wipe off our new desk. It was always kind of thrilling if you got moved to the front of the class with a good vantage point of the blackboard and hallway, unless it meant moving rows away from your best recess friend.
Like all the other kids, I was excited and impatient for Santa to come on Christmas morning. I usually got everything on my list plus extras from eleven aunts and uncles and two wonderful godparents. There were a few practical gifts under the tree too--new snow boots from Mom, and a hand-knit hat and mitten set or a pair of slipper socks from my Great Aunt Kate and Nana.
Over the holidays my mother would launder my army-green book bag and blue catholic school uniform and I would carefully and neatly recover all of my school books with the brown grocery bags my grandmother saved and then helped me cut and fold. By the time New Year’s Eve came, I was eager to see school friends again and sit in my new seat and open a freshly covered textbook. Every year, I resolved that I would pay better attention, raise my hand more and get better grades.
I still feel the same way about new year’s today. Just like the blackboards which were always washed down by the janitors over the holidays and restocked with new chalk, TODAY life is a fresh tablet ready for whatever new assignment we give it.
Happy New Year!