Happy New Year!
About a month ago I heard a news story about an online petition that was going viral. This group was petitioning the US government to change the official date of Halloween from October 31st to the fourth Sunday in October. The reason for this was to always ensure that Trick or Treat would always be on the weekend and not a school night. I think this a great idea, not for trick or treat, or even Halloween, but simply the idea that we can change arbitrary calendar events to times of the year when they make more sense.
That being said – I would like to start a grassroots petition/movement to change New Years Day to September 1st!
When I was a kid, growing up in Brown Deer, Wisconsin in the 1970s, School always started the Tuesday after Labor Day, which was usually anywhere between the 2nd and the 7th of September. The Saturday before Labor day was one of the most anticipated mornings in our young lives. It was on that day that Dean Elementary School would post the fall class lists outside the glass doors. Around 5th grade, they started posting them inside facing out after John G. became quite agitated about his future classroom and destroyed said list in an act of defiance and rage that scarred me to this day. No matter how early my brother and I arrived, the lists were always up, as if posted by school elves or some other mythical beings that feared being seen by children.
After almost three months of speculation, students knew which teachers and classmates they would be around for the next nine months. Using the alphabet, one could even figure out who would be their desk partner. For years I was either stuck next to a nose picker with the last name beginning with “R” or a very shy girl with an “M”. Can you guess my preference?
We would also change our wardrobe! Mom worked at Sears, so we would peruse the Fall Catalog and each got to pick out two pairs of pants and three shirts. These decisions underwent as much scrutiny as a Supreme Court nomination and were subject to parental approval. I remember one year I chose a sweater vest. It was a bad choice, based on the tremendous amount of heckling I received the first and last time I wore it!
Also New? School supplies! Who can forget the promises of the 64 count Crayola Crayons or the brand new pack of loose-leaf paper? Erasers were bright pink and glue bottles were full without a dried up glob of glue clogging the tip. Along with the classroom assignments, a supply list was dittoed and placed in a manilla folder taped to the door.
In addition to a new school year, there were other changes as well. There were brand new Saturday Morning Cartoons in September (SuperFriends, Land of the Lost and Hong Kong Phooey), as well as a new lineup after school on Channel 18, which played endless reruns of Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters and The Brady Bunch. Every network also showed brand new shows at night, as well as new episodes of old favorites. Favorites bounced around the schedule but mostly stayed on the same nights.
Sports moved from Baseball to Football, specifically from the Milwaukee Brewers, who were usually clinging to the bottom of the division after Labor Day to the new hopeful season of the Green Bay Packers, who were clinging to the bottom of their division at the end of their season.
In summary, there just seem to be more “new” things on September 1st than January 1st. Every fall, due to all the changes, daily routines are reestablished or tweaked in order to get everybody out the door on time.
Let’s look at January, shall we? After the holidays, we all go back to the same classrooms. There is the same stuff on TV as in December and the Milwaukee Bucks are in the middle of their season. The Packers are hopefully still playing, but odds are that’s over with. Most of the things you did in December continue on. The only change is that you have to write a different year on your checks (if you even write those anymore). In other words, January is just like December with fewer festivities.
So again, I am starting a grassroots, online petition to formally change the official start of the new year from January 1st to September 1st! Still not convinced? Then let me offer one last argument, an indisputable fact that will cement my argument into a criticism free thesis.
My birthday is on August 31st.
On September 1st, the day after my birthday, I literally start a “new” year. Yesterday I turned 54. This means that I completed 365 days of being 53 years old and September 1st is day one of being 54 years old. Thus I now have to adjust to this new reality and, to be honest, it would make it a lot easier if everyone was on the same page as me! Is that selfish? Possibly, but only if my other arguments are somehow invalid, which even if they were, I would probably not admit that they are.
Seriously, the point I am trying to make is that September 1st or even January 1st are just arbitrary dates, created by man to mark the passage of time. But our human minds have turned these days to mountain top moments in our lives that recommend reflection and change. New Year’s day, in addition to a chance to celebrate, is seen as a chance to reflect on the past year and make changes that will make the next one possibly your best one yet.
But why wait? Instead of “Reflection” and “Resolution”, God uses another R-word – Repentance! This word scares most of us, but it is just a combination of those two. Reflection is simply identifying what went well and what did not over a period of time and resolution is a desire to change something in order to achieve a different goal. Repentance does both, pinpointing where you have failed God and others and formulating a plan to correct that behavior.
I have never met anyone who indicated that their future goal is to keep things exactly the way they are! We are hard-wired to want better! Better for ourselves, our family, our society! Change is a part of life, but only ours! Paul writes in his Letter to the Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” To me, that means if someone has to change in our relationship, it’s got to be me!
But why wait for New Year (either January or September)? I once heard it said that the best time to make a change was yesterday and the second-best time is right now! Change is scary and unpredictable, but like everything else in our lives, the more we engage in change, the easier it will become in the future.
So, what do you think? Should we start a petition to change New Year’s Day? Or should we leave it up to individuals to decide when they need to make changes in their own lives in order to become the best version of themselves?
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for loving us where we are and loving us enough not to leave us there. Help us to change or actions, words and thoughts in order for us to become the men and women that you need us to be in order to further your kingdom. In Jesus’s name, Amen.