New Year’s Eve. It’s the great time in the year to be optimistic about ourselves and the world around us. And why not? Things get done by people who believe in possibility. They are never improved by pessimistic resignation to the idea that there is nothing we can do as individuals to improve our fit in the human condition.
Symbolically, we treat the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve as though it were the timegate into a better world – one that simply floated into our lives on the pendulum swing of a clock stroke. It’s here! Happy New Year! And who knows? It may be, if we are willing to live the things we so easily promise on New Year’s Eve. It will be too, if we simply take a greater responsibility for doing the things we can actually do something about, and if we are willing to learn from our mistakes along the way and settle for progress over perfection as the most realistic human result. In small consumable bites, we can get there, if “getting there” is at all possible, and it will all unfold for us on its own timetable, one day at a time.
Pretty cool stuff.
I’m also blown away this time of the year by all the things that seem to symbolize New Year’s Eve. In words and pictures, here are the major ones that occur to me. I’m sure that others may come to mind for you. Some of my selections only come from my personal experience (see the Marx Brothers below), but most of these icons are fairly universal to our American profile of the day so many people pop open the bubbily:
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadiens played a New Year’s Eve gig over the radio from New York hotels from 1929 through 1976. Over the six decades his music touched directly, we pretty much placed the Canadian immigrant in charge of the American New Yeat’s Eve celebration. His rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” remains the one we still hear when the big crystal ball descends at Times Square in the 21st century.
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are my second big throwback icons from the time we dressed to the nines on New Year’s Eve and danced our way into the new year. We never performed at the the level of those two Hollywood immortals, but our hearts and hopes still soared where our feet couldn’t go.
Can’t imagine New Year’s Eve without music. Jazz was king when the big new year’s eve celebration came alive back in the boom days of the rhe “Roarin’ Twenties”, but American classic pop, rock ‘n roll, classic, country & western, rap, and hip hop have all since found their own voices and steps to the art of singing and dancing in the new year.
Back in the day, many New Year’s Eve partygoers simply lived to get plastered on that special night. Then they got in their cars and attempted driving home. Some people still go this route, but we’ve gotten better over the years at taking better care of ourselves and others where public drinking is concerned. People over age 30 don’t thoughtllessly throw “falling-down-drunk” parties as they once did – and those who do plan drunk nights for themselves also are better at planning designated driver assignments with othera, or for pre-arranging to stay wherever they plan to party.
The Marx Brothers have long been associated with New Year’s Eve. Perhaps it’s because of all the zany party scenes that pop up in most of their movies from the 1930’s. Maybe it’s just because the boys have a unique talent for making people laugh at the self-importance of all the big egos they disrobe in their consistently anti-authoritarian movie plots. Botom Line: The boys are funny and happy on a day in which funny and happy is exactly what most people want to be.
Many people spend New Year’s Eve in rapture over the playing of the last big New Year’s bowl games – or in painful memory of the Houston Oilers. These are the people who need to show more resolve in letting go of past regrets.
He’s today’s Guy Lombardo, Dick Clark sure is, and probably Clark’s bigger than Lombardo because of television and the Internet. We thank God that Mr. Clark is back with us publicly again to bring in 2010 with the dropping of the big new crystal ball in Times Square. We shut-ins, voluntary and otherwise, especially enjoy it.
The singing of auld ang syne is a must on New Year’s Eve. In case you’ve forgotten how it once sounded, here’s how the popular first verse and chorus rings forth in the phonetics of Scottish speech from the 18th century:
Shid ald akwentans bee firgot, an nivir brocht ti mynd? Shid ald akwentans bee firgot, an ald lang syn?
- Fir ald lang syn, ma jo,
fir ald lang syn,
wil tak a cup o kyndnes yet,
fir ald lang syn.
Happy New Year, Everybody! Dance like you know what you’re doing this New Year’s Eve and kiss like you really mean it. If we all make it to midnight tomorrow night, we should first pause for a moment of gratitude and then prepare ourselves to live each coming day of 2010 with as much inner directed purpose as we can bring to the table. None of us are ever guaranteed another sunrise, let alone, another new year. No matter how old or young we are, it’s time to lean forward into tomorrow on the strength of today’s hope – and not to fall back into any old regrets we may still have about the past. Our time is now. It always is.