What makes a New Year happy?

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The phrase is as natural at this time of the year as “How ya doing?”

Right after Merry Christmas comes the wish of a Happy New Year.

Here are a couple of questions for you.

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When was the first day of January established as the first day of a new year and what kind of year would it take for you to have a truly Happy New Year?

First things first. Why Jan. 1 as the first day of the year?

It all began before the birth of Christ and was established by one of the most famous figures in world history, Julius Caesar. The year was 46 B.C. and this first, great leader of what would become the Roman Empire declared Jan. 1 as the first day of the new year.

January, as a month, was named after the Roman god, Janus, who interestingly is portrayed as having two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward. He, also, was known as the god of gates, openings, or new beginnings. I don’t really know what Julius Caesar was thinking, but it seems pretty obvious that the month named after this god was a good place to start with a new year.

We are still looking backward and forward during this time of the year. We look backward as news media of all kinds have their top 10 lists of the year’s important news events, the year’s best and worst so-and-so’s, and who might have passed during the previous 12 months.

At the same time, we are encouraged to look forward with New Year’s resolutions of how we might improve our lives. It seems to me that there are not nearly as many resolutions as there used to be. I wonder if that is because we are becoming more resigned to a world that seems to offer fewer ways of improvement.

Nevertheless, this is a good time of the year to think of my second question. Just what would make this year of 2011 a happy new year for you?

Here are a few things that would make the year happy for me.

The old saying that “if you’ve got your health you’ve got everything” is a good one. Many times we think otherwise. Good jobs, plenty of money, good homes, good children, all sorts of goodness in other things seem to drive our happiness, but I’ve been around the block enough to know that feeling good physically, mentally and spiritually is really what wholeness and happiness is all about. A Happy New Year would be a healthy new year.

Along those lines, I’d be tremendously happy if these old knees of mine would continue to carry me around, walking the neighborhood, another year. Many of those miles were spent with Little Bit, one of my best friends and who just happens to be a dog. I’d really be happy if that companionship lasts another year.

Speaking of companions, a Happy New Year includes that precious companion of life, Donna Sue, and all the other family members that are connected to her and me. All of us aged another year in 2010 and to add 2011 to our lifetimes would be nice.

I’ve spoken of good health for 2011, but a Roman author of the first century said that there was another blessing in life. He said that “good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings.”

I can lay claim to the good health part, but the good sense part, I will let someone else lay at my doorstep. However, if I had good sense in 2010, I’d be happy to keep that good sense another year. Good sense would make for a Happy New Year, not only for me, but for lots of folks.

I’m thinking of our politicians in Washington. I understand completely that good sense and Washington politicians may create an oxymoron, but I could be very happy in 2011 if those who have been charged with making sound decisions for the good, ole US of A might actually make a few! Of course, my desire for good health compels me to not hold my breath until that happens.

It will be a Happy New Year in 2011 if the weather cooperates with our agricultural industry. I’d like the rain to fall and the sun to shine at the right times. I’d be happy for great yields, high prices for the crops, but low prices in the grocery store. That might not sound logical, but I’m just saying what would make me happy.

I’d be happy this new year reading some good books and, especially, The Good Book. I’ve been reading it all the way through for many years, now, and a happy year would continue that tradition.

A Happy New Year would have me continue in the work that I enjoy so much. The friends that I have made in that service are wonderful and their good health and happiness means much to me. I’m also thinking of another familiar phrase, the more the merrier. It would be a good and prosperous year to add to their numbers.

I’d like to hear a few more good jokes and sing more songs this year. Perhaps, I’ll find a new recipe to try or visit another great place like New York City. To see my family more this year would bring great joy and make the year special. For the world to be a more peaceful place so that our sons and daughters might come home would be a source of happiness.

When I think about what it would take to make this new year a happy one, it’s not too complicated. Good health, more time with loved ones, good friends, good food, comfortable living. Those are just a few of the circumstances that would make 2011 a Happy New Year for me. Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

The opportunity to keep writing to you. I appreciate all of you very much and wish you all a prosperous and Happy New Year.