I’ve never been one for the whole “New Year’s” thing. It’s all a construct, of course. For me, Jan. 1 is not so much a magical transition into a new ethereal realm, as some seem to believe (at least until the bills start piling up), as it is the first day of the next month after December.
And it is indeed, sadly, the end of a holiday season that begins in October. I envision the transition from that wonderful week between Christmas and New Year’s into the stark reality of January as being something like elven roadies packing up after a hit show that ran for three months. All good things must come to an end, and all.
Imagine with me, if you will: It’s dusk on Jan. 1; the show is over. The wise men and Santa are huddled together in a corner, comparing GPS apps and contemplating new shortcuts home, a nearby lingering turkey leaning against the wall, getting in one last smoke; angels collect wayward tinsel from the rafters and orange Reese’s wrappers from under the chairs; toy soldiers scoop up excess candy canes with their swords, moving about like stadium crews picking up trash after a big game, one of them nonchalantly stashing a forgotten Amazon gift card in his pocket; and ultimately, the Island of Misfit Toys Express pulls up to the station, exhaust goading the fog and drizzle into an eerie glow as the lone streetlight strains to illuminate a bare patch of broken pavement…
Fate accepted and heads down, weary passengers silently embark — first in line, the stuffed Chick-Fil-A cow, accidentally dropped into the stocking of the girl with two moms… You get the idea.
But oh, that glorious, three-month run known as October through December — Halloween and Thanksgiving, A-list opening acts awash in foliage and football, eventually deferring to the crown jewel of holidays in late December. Imagine a noon first pitch at Baum, a 4 p.m. tip at Bud Walton and a 7:30 kick at Razorback Stadium, and there you have it.
If it represents anything, aside from a red-letter day for football and another chance to remember how much I dislike black-eyed peas, and it is very much both of those things, New Year’s Day for me represents the “now, what?” of a dried-out Fraser fir tossed to the curb; the front doorstep of the cold, gray way station that is January and February in Arkansas, spring a mere afterthought. And yeah, the Island of Misfit Toys.
(And New Year’s Eve? Scoff. The incomparable Libby Sharp used to refer to it as “amateur hour.”)
This year, however, perhaps New Year’s will carry a little more weight as we transition from a poop-emoji year into… well, probably another poop-emoji year, honestly. At least, expectations will be lower.
But before we enter this magical new world of 2021, where surely a new year and new president will make everything better (insert exaggerated eye roll), three random observations from a wild and woolly year:
• Love thy neighbor, folks. It’s really pretty simple. Or at the very least, take the Libertarian route and just ignore them.
• The SEC doesn’t necessarily hate Arkansas. (Necessarily.) But it sure does protect its “blue bloods.”
• Banishment to a Mississippi bean field for anyone who drives at a slower-than-traffic pace in the left, ahem, passing, lane, as well as for those infidels in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru who don’t pull up all the way.
This New Year’s Eve, assuming we can detach our gaze from the spectacle of Jenny McCarthy cozying up to/flirting with/outright seducing a forlorn sailor in Times Square (occasionally even in that order), let’s take a minute to remember how lucky we are to be ringing in a new year at all.
Let’s count our blessings, which really, are more numerous than we realize, and for which we certainly aren’t worthy.
And remember, be on the lookout for amateurs bearing black-eyed peas.