It’s that time of year where we pause our hectic lives and press the imaginary reset button. Of course, we know those reset buttons by their more familiar name, New Year’s resolutions.
Time to say goodbye to the could-have-beens and the should-have-beens for the current year. Time to look forward to the what-could-bes and what-should-bes. I’m talking about a new year. And in a year in which so much was canceled and delayed due to COVID-19, we are all looking forward to the first day of the new year.
While I’m not sure about New Year’s resolutions, January 1st is a vestige of the days when the Roman Empire lorded over much of Europe and the Middle East and imposed the Julian Calendar upon its global empire. To this day, New Year’s celebrations hold a special place in American culture that is ingrained from a young age.
As schoolchildren, we are given January 1st off each year, though it is neither a religious holiday nor a national holiday recognizing a solemn occasion such as Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Our earliest memories of the holiday are probably going to bed while our parents stayed up very late with friends well past our bedtime. Eventually, we reach the age when we stay up until midnight for the first time, and it feels like a rite of passage.
As part of that rite, you may have even proclaimed a resolution or two. While people choose many different types of resolutions, a good many are based on self-improvement. Starting January 1st and continuing into the new year, we will be healthier and better people. We will exercise more. We will eat better. We will be nicer to all people—strangers and friends alike. We will save more and spend less.
Until we aren’t.
Until we don’t.
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