What do you mean, “Happy New Year”? What happened to the old year?
That’s what I am thinking to myself as I stare bleakly at the calendar, mourning the passing of another year, acutely mindful of the fact that the road behind me is growing considerably longer as the road ahead of me shortens.
My grandgirl has no such concerns.
She is eager to get this new year started. Proudly, if a bit shakily, she chants off the names of the months in her sweet little sing-song voice with only a few prompts from me: “January, February – that’s my birthday, Granma! – March, April, May, June, July, August, um, Septober, Octnever, Nowhender, December!”
Her birthday is an early highlight, yes, but she is already looking forward to swimming in the summertime, trick-or-treating in the autumn, and surely Santa Claus is only right around the corner and will be back any day now.
She looks forward with great anticipation to a brand new year, even though the concept of “year” is still a little uncertain for her. All she sees is a clean slate and endless opportunities for fun and wonder.
There is no mourning over days gone by, no regrets, no melancholy in her bright and cheerful little world.
If she looks back at all, it is only to recall happy times and joyful memories of time spent surrounded by people who love her, with an optimistic expectation that every good thing she has ever experienced will happen again in this bright and shiny new year.
She chatters on and on, ticking off holidays, milestones and birthday months of everyone in the family.
There will be summer vacation – yay! – and then the first day of school – yay again!
There will be flowers and picnics and Easter egg hunts. There will be pony rides at the Apple Festival. There will be “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” pancakes at Denny’s and there will be glitter and lace when we make Valentines. We will walk across the Big Blue Bridge and we will keep secrets at Christmas. There will be a choo-choo train ride and the tradition of a family breakfast on special occasions. There will be craft nights and cookie baking marathons and we will all dress up and walk around Uncle Timmy’s neighborhood collecting candy on Halloween. We will play in the snow and we will watch the fast, loud airplanes zoom over the river.
The year is all mixed up. I can relate, as I listen to her describe the seasons, everything a jumble as these plans and promises tumble through her mind and her memory.
Caught up in her enthusiasm, I sweep my grandgirl into my arms as she catches her breath, both of us beaming with excitement at the very thought of the road we are about to travel.
“Well, my girl, we have much to look forward to,” I say, and she nods vigorously, ponytail bouncing.
I hold her close, then reach out and turn the page of the calendar.
Who needs to look back when the best is yet to come?
Happy New Year to all.