Meet the New Year, Same as the Old Year

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s.

My holiday priority list has already been pretty well established around these parts. It’s Christmas first, then everything else way down the list. Thanksgiving’s No. 2. Independence Day’s probably third because of all the good food and fireworks.

New Year’s? It’s somewhere between Bastille Day and Columbus Day. Hell, Columbus Day might be above New Year’s, and it’s a holiday that celebrates an explorer who screwed up just about everything he did.

Look, I’m all for reasons to throw more parties and get days off of work. That’s why I don’t hate New Year’s or anything. But I feel like all the holiday accomplishes is an excuse for weak-willed people to pretend like they’re going to change.

Change isn’t easy, folks. If it were, people wouldn’t be stuck in dead-end jobs, or settling for marriages where they’re unhappy, or shortchanging their diets in favor or a familiar fast food meal. When the date magically changes from 2011 to 2012, Joe Schmo isn’t going to roll out of bed with a newfound commitment to exercise more and stress less.

Don’t get me wrong: People inherently love the idea of change. That’s why you see get-rich-quick schemes on cheap infomercials and blatantly fake website ads touting miracle workouts that shed pounds by the minute. It’s also why President Obama swept through the country in his 2008 campaign on a platform of change — people thought “hey, change sounds good, especially if someone does it all for me!”

That’s not how it works.

The mistake I see this time of year is that people try to change who they are overnight. If you’re the rare breed who can manage to flip the switch and make resolutions stick yearround, kudos to you. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight or be a better person simply because the calendar turned the page. Those are choices you should be making in January, and August, and Febtober, and Decembeard.

I haven’t celebrated New Year’s for several years now. That’s not to say I don’t have plenty of things I can still change to be a better person — those are still a work in progress. But I’m not naive enough to think that now that we’re past the holiday, everything will be different. It’s not.

And yes, the same thing applies to the Mayan calendar ending in December. It’s paper, folks. We replace calendars all the time.

Happy New Year.

2 thoughts on “Meet the New Year, Same as the Old Year

  1. Well said, except that sometimes a new year can be a catalyst for the hope of change. People that have been continually dumped on in 2011 can look to 2012 with a renewed hope that “this year can be better,” and their attitude will reflect that, whether its placebo effect or legitimate change. I think that’s an important belief to hold on to.

    Also, what’s Febtober?

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