I am not too cool for New Year’s. Many in my circle are all hip and together. They pooh-pooh the idea of taking stock of the past year and looking resolutely forward to the new.
We’ve been told by our cool friends that self-awareness of past successes/mistakes and of new beginnings should not be reserved for one day of the year but should be a daily state of mind. Yea, sure, but the thing is it isn’t. None of us is perfect and having a socially shared reminder day, well, I just don’t see the harm. In fact I think it’s a pretty great idea.
We’ve been told by our even cooler friends that the only thing that matters is the present. There is nothing we can do about the past and worrying about the future is pointless. We must live “in the moment.” We’ve all heard this groovy 70’s New Age crapola until we can recite it chapter and verse.
Reflecting on – and learning from – the past is kind of a cornerstone for any thinking person. “Living-in-the-moment” devotees decry guilt as an a priori evil that serves no useful purpose and brings only pain. On this I agree. But the common miscue is confusing “guilt” (bad) with “responsibility” (good) and “accountability” (even better). Responsibility and accountability are essential for individual growth and certainly essential if we’re going to live together in, you know, a “society.”
So I say cheers to New Year’s and the way we do it here in the good ole USA. Of course, I’m usually not the guy being all affable and down with the status quo. I’m usually that guy. The guy doing the holiday pooh-poohing:
Valentine’s Day – Made up holiday to sell flowers and candy.
Martin Luther King Day – White people get the day off and can’t be bothered to show up at MLK Day events.
Presidents’ Day – Deals on mattresses.
Easter – Fairy story taken literally; all the fun stuff stolen from the Pagans.
Mother’s/Father’s Day – Institutionalized guilt.
Memorial Day/Veteran’s Day/Independence Day – exploited by jingoists to fetishize the military and sell their dirty wars.
Labor Day – Deals on sheets to put on your Presidents’ Day mattress.
Columbus Day and Thanksgiving – celebrates the genocide of indigenous peoples.
Halloween – Christmas decorations up in the stores; stolen from the Pagans.
Christmas – An eight-week consumerist hurl; stolen from the Pagans.
New Year’s? We’ve got it just about right. We catalog the top songs, news stories, innovations, everything from movies to new words in the dictionary. We remember artists and writers who died. Individually, we reflect on our lives of the past year. And we make resolutions we won’t keep. (To paraphrase Seinfeld, “we know how to make the resolution; we just don’t know how to keep the resolution.”) But that’s okay; you’ve got next New Year’s. And before that you’ve got another reminder… your birthday!
So, yeah, New Year’s; bring it on. I’m cool with it.
Charles Bursell is a writer, performer, host and commentator heard nationally on SiriusXM, National Public Radio, and The Pacifica Radio Network. He currently hosts the podcasts “The Log” and “Charles Bursell Presents.”