I have a confession to make. As we count down the final days of 2019, I have never felt that January 1st is my new year. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the whole calendar thing and will change the date of the few checks I write these days. However, perhaps because I tend to live in Jewish time, or perhaps because I have been a perennial student (and the father of students) my tendency is to see the early Fall as the beginning of my year. It is at that time, as well as the weeks leading up to it, that I do my introspection; my self-evaluation; my final t’shuvah (i.e. accepting responsibility for all my failures and asking for forgiveness); and my setting of new goals.
Besides all that, the greeting “shanah tovah/a good year” has always seemed to me more appropriate than “Happy New Year!” Goodness is something in our control—in the actions we take, as well as the words we speak. We can bring and see goodness everywhere, even in the so-called negative bumps and bruises that are inevitably a part of all our lives because, in truth, they can help us grow. Happiness, on the other hand, is an emotion, a wonderful one. But ALL emotions are like uninvited guests—they come and go on their own volition. We have absolutely no control over our emotions. None. What makes me happy today might seem like “same old, same old” tomorrow. And when those mushy sentimental commercials come on the television, or I see an act of kindness or generosity on the internet, my tears flow. I can’t help it. Yeah, I know—total wimp! But the point is emotions are not something we can force or even create. “You should be happy,” someone screeches at us. “Doesn’t that make you angry?” a friend challenges. Good luck with that! Emotions just do not work that way.
Nevertheless, I do not want to be known as the New Year Grinch. Besides, I have nothing against being happy. So let me wish everyone reading this all the moments of happiness in 2020 they so richly deserve. I hope there are lots and lots of them! Being your authentic self and following your heart will help you get there. And may we all celebrate on the third of November, the return of decency and moral leadership to the Presidency of our great nation! VOTE!!