It has been a few years since Son #1 informed me that the only new year’s celebration is the one on Rosh Hashanah. Now that his brothers have joined him in this thinking, I have pretended that I agree with them. Of course, now they will know that I have been pretending, but, as I say quite often, I am not going to heaven for many reasons, so just add this one to the list. I think that as an Orthodox Jew, a third-generation American Orthodox Jew, I can believe in both types of new years.
For years, my parents took us to the Concord Hotel for winter vacation. In the olden days, that meant December 24 to January 2. They felt that if we were celebrating New Year’s Eve in a hotel, we were “safer” than if we were out galivanting elsewhere. For many reasons, I will not discuss the very, very fun New Year’s Eves that I had at that hotel, but I totally got my parents’ logic. Raising boys in our community, we never really worried what they were up to, and we even hosted a few parties ourselves. Of course that stopped when we started not being invited to outings to restaurants, and once I had a party just for the folks who also weren’t included, but that is a whole other column.
Last year, as some of my readers know, Husband #1 and I were mourning the loss of our fathers and didn’t celebrate anything. Including New Year. No celebration of any kind will ever be the same, but again, that is for another column. And now here we are. Here we are, in a place of mourning again, and on such a larger scale. How can we celebrate anything with what is going on? I get babies being born, engagements, weddings, but something like New Year, when there are still hostages, when our sons and brothers and cousins are fighting — we are supposed to be feeling hopeful and having faith? This is not an easy thing to do. Were there people drinking too much and celebrating the start of 2024? I am sure there were. Were there people not drinking at all and saying a lot of tehillim? Yes, for sure.
But like everything in life, we need to find the balance. We need to find the way to not let the anxiety take over. For example, have you thought about how cool it would be to be born on February 4th this year (2/4/24)? Have you ever gone dress shopping online and put in different dress sizes so you could see what a size 2 looks like, as opposed to a size 22? Have you ever gone through your night table drawers and found birthday cards from people you have nothing to do with anymore? And then you save them because, hey, why not? I know, I need to get a life. But I am trying to help you all out here. Oh, putting in different heights and weights on a BMI calculator is also fun… Just saying…
My New Year resolutions have always been the same. Lose weight, be nicer to my mother, and try to be a better person. And then another year goes by, and my resolutions are the exact same thing. Some years I am better at some of those things, and some years I am not. In years past, there would be a “shred it and forget it” ceremony in Times Square. You write down either something that you were supposed to accomplish, or something troublesome that happened to you, and then you rip it up, throw it out, and start anew. There might’ve been one this year too, but I have no idea.
This year, it is hard to do anything with so many people suffering. How many of us have been thinking about Hersh Polin Goldberg and how his “trip of a lifetime” was supposed to start on December 27th? Our hearts break. And yet there were good and wonderful things this past year. Danish started walking. Strudel became a big sister. My daughters-in-law still speak to me…
2024 — what will you bring us? Let’s pray for only peace and joy.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck apologizes if her columns have not been “up to par” (according to one disgruntled reader — true story). Maybe 2024 will bring funnier ones! Thank you again for reading them….