“…It’s just another New Year’s Eve, another night like all the rest. It’s just another New Year’s Eve, let’s make it the best…”
So go the lyrics of that ancient Barry Manilow song that became the “Auld Lang Syne” for my generation. It was a hit in my high school slumber party days when we stopped talking about our boyfriends long enough to gather around the TV and watch a seemingly ageless Dick Clark count down the last seconds before the ball dropped in New York City. I remember it from college, when most of us gathered at midnight were going to be married in the new year, anxious to settle into apartments stocked with Corningware dishes and towels from JC Penney. As I grew older and more cynical, my friends and I referred to it (and other syrupy, sentimental ballads) as “stick your head in the oven” songs—guaranteed to depress the hell out of you on a holiday already marked by enforced frivolity and over indulgence.
New Year’s always seems like the poor little sister of the big three. At Thanksgiving, we’re reveling in roast turkey and pumpkin spice everything and by the time Santa waves to us at the end of the Macy’s parade, we’re ready to bring on the tinsel and glitter, throw out the pumpkins on the porch and hang the greens. Christmas is king, filled with glorious music and houses illuminated at night and presents and cookies and family all in a breathless rush. Then after that lost week between Christmas and New Year’s where you don’t even know what day it is, the tree starts dropping needles in earnest, the cookies turn stale, and we must take it all down and go back to work or school with nothing but the interminable monotony of winter reaching as far as the eye can see. And is there anything more depressing than Valentine displays in stores the day after Christmas? Arghhh…
But I like to think of every New Year as the start of a road trip. We get behind the wheel, excited for the journey, but there are detours and traffic jams and sometimes even accidents and we don’t always end up at the destination we programmed into the GPS. Sometimes, we stop for a breathtaking view and the perfect song comes on the radio and we’re laughing with a group of friends in the back seat. Other times, we’re alone in the car for longer than we’d like to be and we’re not sure where we’re going, and we take a wrong turn. We’re lost and discover that we need to ask someone for help. And, if we’re lucky, further down the road, we’ll get an opportunity to help someone else fix their tire or find their way home.
I’ve gotten into the car for quite a few journeys into new years. I still love the ride even though I worry a little more about what obstacles may lie ahead, and about what’s happening in the world outside my vehicle. But I take a deep breath, and pull out onto the road anticipating new sights and stopping at new places. There are different people traveling with me than there were twenty years ago as well as some who have come along every year since I was a child. I treasure them all. My car will always have pet hair on the seats and snoot snot on the windows. I will find good restaurants along the way and eventually, I’ll end up at the beach. Choral music will be playing, and my copy of the Book of Common Prayer will be somewhere in the car as I joyfully set out on highway 2018.
I wish you a wonderful road trip into this New Year. Travel with those closest to you, crank up the radio and sing along with your favorite music. Keep moving and enjoy the ride. And don’t listen to that Barry Manilow song.