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Have a happy, healthy, limitless New Year

"Those who live life in the past limit their future."

— A teabag tag

I resolve to… and to… and so with renewed determination, we sashay forth into the New Year, aspiring to wipe the slate clean, or at least part of it, and start anew. In so doing, we give a nod to the above cutesy aphorism I found on my tea bag tag this morning. It underscores an annoying and potentially exhausting urge I usually succeed in holding at bay, or at least relegating to background noise – that if only we tried a little harder we could do a little better, be a little better, make a better, seemingly limitless future.

As kids, my sister and I treated New Year’s with a child’s notion of reverence and innocence. We would make predictable childlike resolutions – I resolve not to hit my sister in the New Year, I resolve to do better in school, I resolve to eat chocolate once a day were popular ones – that were forgotten or overruled by Jan. 3.

During the countdown leading up to midnight on New Year’s Eve, we were so excited that we almost vibrated. (What were our parents thinking letting us stay up that late? We must have been orangutans the next day.) Then, after the bouncing roly-poly New Year’s baby had pushed aside the thin old bearded man, who always looked sort of like death, except he wore a white robe instead of black and didn’t carry a wicked looking scythe, we treated each new act of the New Year with solemnity and a ritualized reverence, especially any act of eating.

We would literally run around the house looking for something to eat or drink which would suddenly, magically take on an aura of something extraordinary because it was the "first" of the New Year.

This is my first mandarin orange of the New Year, we would declare to each other like we were exchanging vows. Then we would peel and eat our oranges with a singular attention I usually only give to food now when I’ve paid a lot for it. This is my first sip of ginger ale. This is my first nigger’s toe, not knowing what a nigger, let alone a nigger’s toe was – it was simply the name of our favourite nut. (We call them Brazil nuts now.) Ribbon candy, cheese Ritz crackers, gherkin pickles, bits of cold turkey or garlic sausage all became fetishized in our New Year’s ritual.

We took the whole thing quite seriously. I suppose we felt the moral weight of New Year’s, and fresh leaves, and brighter futures even at that early age. In fact, I’m sure it was my mother who prompted us on what appropriate resolutions were in the first place, ones that would make us better citizens (the chocolate once a day was our own invention).

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