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THE FORGETTABLE HOLIDAY; IT'S COLORLESS, BUT IT SERVES A PURPOSE

WE KNOW what you're going to say. The reason New Year's Day is a forgettable holiday is that quite a few people are in no condition on Jan. 1 to remember anything. But that's not all of it.

Regardless of the extent of New Year's Eve partying, there is something intrinsically forgettable about New Year's Day. Of all the year's holidays, this is the blandest, the least connected to any kind of tradition or meaning or ritual.

So what if the old calendar has to be thrown out? Except when time runs out on 1999, this event isn't likely to have much significance. And those cultures that do care about the coming of a new year usually celebrate it on other days, not Jan. 1.

Oh yes, there are a few people for whom New Year's Days will go down indelibly in memory. Quarterbacks who throw winning passes in Rose Bowl games. Mayors and governors who take over offices they've lusted after. Parents who clean up on gifts after having the New Year's Baby.

But these are isolated cases. What about the rest of us?

The party was over last night, or rather this morning. After sleeping late, spending a few hours at the TV watching floats and footballs and then maybe eating the 23rd and thankfully last super-rich meal of the holidays, what's leftto do?

Make resolutions? Contrary to popular lore, this is no day for doing that in any kind of seriousness. Oh yes, the wish never to see another piece of chocolate candy or glass of eggnog will make itself felt. There may even be a secret relief that tomorrow one can forget all this elaborate indulgence and get back to the regular work schedule. But these are transitory feelings, the price of satiation. The lure of self-gratification will return about Jan. 4.

As for real resolution -- the kind that inspires one to write a novel, found a charity, build a house, plan a baby, improve one's mind -- that is not to be arrived at in a moment, on a scheduled day.

All of this doesn't mean, though, that we should abolish this colorless non-holiday.

It's very much needed, not for celebrating but for winding down and general loafing. After all that partying and preparation and entertaining and excitement, it's the perfect wrap-up for the holidays.

So happy new year. Take it easy, get your rest and don't think too hard about the resolutions and goals and problems. There are 364 days coming for that. Just smile and adjust the sofa cushions.

If ever there's a day when sheer boredom can be appreciated, this is it.

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