PEPER COLUMN: Everyone wants ‘new me’ in the new year
When Christmas comes on a Tuesday, does it mean many people will take their decorations down today? If you wait another week, will you “really” be tired of it by then, and a few of the neighbors will slowly drive by, look at you and wonder? (Maybe some already do?)
In any event, there’s no question that all stuff certainly comes down much quicker than it goes up. But if you remove it with too much haste, there’s nothing but mangled light strands, broken ornaments and crushed Kringles when the box is opened the following year.
This period between Christmas and New Year’s is confusing, anyway. Schools still are on break, but how many new movies can you see — or afford? Attitudes at store checkout lines are dramatically altered as well. The cheeriness of a few days earlier may now be replaced with a smart-alecky “What?”
Who we are
The period of reflection is approaching. You know the drill. It involves all the inner searching for tweaking the parts you don’t like into a “new you” for a new year. Everybody plays the game, even if it’s only for the first four days of January. Gotta lose weight, throw away junk in the garage, quit smoking, listen when the spouse is talking, drink less, attend church more (probably best to do these two about the same time).
What am I leaving out? Oh, yeah, get out of debt, manage stress, volunteer, get organized, spend more time with family and friends and enjoy life more. Everybody all in? Of course you are!
Research shows that 88 percent of all resolutions fail. Other stats indicate 60 percent of gym memberships go unused. As a wise teacher at North Charleston High School once told me, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”
The biggest thing we all seem to share is an inability to stick to anything.
Different cultures try to get the new year started in the right direction by eating lucky or symbolic foods. In Germany, sauerkraut is considered a must for the same reason Southerners cook collards. Both represent money or fortune.
In Mexico, a round cake is baked with a surprise inside, usually coins. Here, we prepare Hoppin’ John with a penny or two mixed-in. Whoever gets that particular serving also will find prosperity in the coming year.
In Spain, the year starts with eating 12 grapes, one for each month.
In Japan, the first meal is lentil soup and rice.
All these spots on the globe are strung together with a cultural belief that eating something specific will make a difference in what happens to you.
There also are certain items you shouldn’t eat. A lobster, for instance, because it moves backward. That could lead to setbacks. Some believe it’s best to stay away from chicken on Jan. 1 because it scratches backward, and that’s the wrong direction to begin a new year.
So what’s a person to do? It’s hard to say. Aren’t most workout centers closed on New Year’s Day anyway?
I love the sayings of Ben Franklin. His advice for success? “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But he also warned us not to think too highly of ourselves when he said, “People who are wrapped up in themselves ... make small packages.”
Here’s hoping 2013 allows us all to see beyond ourselves. Is it possible, though, to find good fortune in a year that contains the unluckiest number ever? Better eat some extra collards!
Reach Warren Peper at email@example.com.