Sunday, January 01, 2006

Let's do the time warp

I always liked New Year's Day. It's my favorite of all the holidays we call The Holidays, a season that now seems to stretch from Halloween to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. New Year's Day does not have much baggage -- no bitter sectarian rancor, no mandatory poultry dishes.

I suppose the New Year's Eve revel carries some freight for those who care about such things. Where will I party, and with whom? But for the rest of us, New Year's is simply the time that the Gregorian calendar rolls majestically over.

Last night was the first New Year's Eve in many years that I actually stayed up till midnight, and even that was not by design. Ereck is out of town, and I was reading in the kitchen when I looked at the clock and realized it was half past eleven. And so I wandered into the living room, turned on the television and pushed a button I rarely push on the Tivo remote control, the one marked "live TV." (How's that for a time warp?)

On one channel was Dick Clark's traditional New Year's special, and the appearance of Clark, who had a stroke in 2004, was a somber reminder of time's passing. Until the stroke, he was the perennial butt of jokes about his seemingly perpetual youth, but he has aged. Last night, seated and slurring, he looked unwell.

I flipped to another channel just in time to watch Regis Philbin counting down to midnight and then hopping ecstatically. "Fireworks!" he screamed, as giant sparklers spewed embers into the chilly Times Square sky. "Fireworks!"

Over the last couple of days I have overheard people weighing in on the year just passed. "2005 can kiss my ass," I heard one man say. "It was a great year," I heard someone else say. I talked to a man on New Year's Eve whose son that day had gone to prison for seven years. Happy new year.

As for me? It indeed was a great year. I marked the fifth anniversary of my wonderful relationship with Ereck, I got a terrific new job, I paid off some debts, I sang a lot and I welcomed my brother's new wife into the family. On the down side, my grandmother died and an old college friend committed suicide. But my young niece and nephew smile and grow, and my sister has another baby on the way.

Happy 2006 to all of you, my loyal friends.

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