The symbols for the New Year, Father Time and Baby New Year, are polar opposites on the age spectrum.
Father Time is gaunt and haggard, draping about in a long robe, carrying a huge hourglass and a large scythe. The timepiece appears heavy and the scythe definitely looks lethal. The message is clear: “Time’s ticking – get the lead out!”
Baby New Year wears nothing but a diaper, a sash and a top hat. Baby New Year travels light compared to Father Time. Baby New Year has chubby cheeks, pudgy thighs and fat rolls, all of which are adorable. He’s also ready to party! Oh, the joys of youth.
The message of Baby New Year is “fresh start.” It sounds good, but in reality the kid has no idea what lies ahead. There will be food and digestive issues, toileting matters, sleep problems and people yelling, “Get down from that ladder!” and “What are you doing on the counter?”—all of which also may be familiar to the people Father Time is trailing as well.
Surely, there’s something between “time’s up” and “fresh start.” There’s much to be said for the middle ground of having some time and experience behind you and a horizon still somewhere in front of you.
Life is an ever-expanding canvas painted one day at a time. Some days are masterpieces, others look like wild paint splatters, and many are an in-between work in progress.
Nobody knows with certainty how long the canvas will keep unrolling. Some are told it is growing short then find themselves enjoying a serendipitous reprieve. For others the canvas ends with shocking brevity.
Because of the unpredictability of time, some say we should live each day like it is our last. The intensity of such a challenge would be utterly exhausting emotionally, mentally, physically, and nearly impossible, if not outright debilitating. If we truly did live like each day was our last, one of them well could be.
My New Year symbol of choice is a new calendar, page after page of blank spaces waiting to be filled and roomy margins for notations on special events, anniversaries to remember and new memories waiting to be made.
Twelve months, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Each one a gift with countless possibilities.
Let the unwrapping begin.