Another chance for us to get it right | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Happy New Year! It is 2012!

What are our expectations? About the state of the nation, the survey says that the general outlook is positive. In fact, one paper states that optimism for 2012 is at its highest level. God willing, it will be good!

The end of a year, and the beginning of a new one are marked by the making of lists of remarkable events or people, described in superlatives.

We talk about the most unforgettable events, the life-changers or, at least, the game-changers. What made the headlines? Who is Man or Woman of the Year? In show business they select: the Movie of the Year, Song of the Year, Actor, Actress, Singer, you name it.

The categories include the notable and the notorious.  Did you know that in 1938 Adolf Hitler was Man of the Year for Time magazine? Go figure.

Celebrities and personalities are asked about their New Year’s resolutions.

The only resolution I recall ever keeping was to quit smoking. I did, cold turkey, in 1984, and I have not had a puff since. It is, without doubt, the best thing I ever did in my life.

But why is so much emphasis given the last day of the year? None other is as eagerly awaited. No other night ends in such a garish and gaudy manner. Firecrackers, although banned, still explode all around you. Fireworks light up the sky, and we love it! We gasp and gape in childlike wonder, never mind that pollution will be at an all-time high the next morning.

Why is there such hype? We count down the last 10 seconds of the year as if our lives depended on them.

It could be that as the year ends, we are eager to start fresh, and anxious to right the wrongs of the old year. Like Oprah Winfrey said: Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Romantic notion

When I was very young, there was this romantic notion that at the stroke of midnight, whoever you were with would be with you for the rest of the year, if not the rest of your life.

Allow me to put that myth to rest. Like the song in Porgy and Bess goes, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

But we believed it. The midnight countdown at our parties was the climax of the celebration. At exactly 12 o’clock, the lights would go out. Just for a few seconds or the oldies would scold.

There was only enough time for a quick kiss for the timid ones. Of course, that brief time of darkness was not long enough for the bolder couples. They were considered “wild” in my time. In today’s world, they would be candidates for the nunnery or sainthood.

At exactly midnight, they played “Auld Lang Syne.” There was always a lot of kissing, hugging and crying while we sang about old acquaintances being forgotten. I noticed that the older people got really emotional.

It took me many years to understand that this brief moment could truly bring up the memories of a lifetime. In the middle of the merriment, we recall “tokens of the pleasures tasted, regrets for all the years we wasted, names of half-forgotten faces, music from familiar places, bittersweet reminders of lovers loved and lovers lost.”

Instant flashback

And so it is that at midnight of the 31st of December (actually January 1st?) we have this instant flashback. It moves many of us to tears. And in between sobs and crying, we wish one another a Happy New Year. It is really quite funny if you think about it. Of course, it could also be the champagne.

So how was New Year’s Eve at your house?

Before the war, Mama would wear a floor-length gown or traje de mestiza and Papa wore a formal traje de frac to the elegant New Year’s Eve Ball at the Manila Hotel or Tiro al Blanco Club.  I loved to see them all dressed up like that. In my eyes they looked like movie stars.

We were allowed to have a friend or cousin for a sleepover, and we could stay up all night. The round dining room table was set with the finest tablecloth and napkins and our best china. There were 12 succulent grapes on each plate; champagne glasses filled with sparkling grape juice for the children and the real stuff for Mama and Papa, and dessert, usually a merengue de café from La Suiza, all ready for midnight.

Papa and Mama made it a point to leave their party a few minutes before the countdown to come home.  They brought horns and hats for everyone. We welcomed the New Year together, gulped down our grapes, one for each month of the New Year, and lit up luces de Bengala. Tradition accomplished, we happily went to bed and they went back to the Ball.

It was all so simple then.

I really am not into making New Year’s resolutions, which according to a writer, “just go into one year and out the other.”

Instead, I want to play “Wish ko lang!”

Let me start with this.

I long to hear someone say “only in the Philippines” not mockingly but with pride!  The same goes for “Pinoy kasi.”

I ache to see young people stop whatever they are doing and stand when our National Anthem is played and to sing it “with fervor burning.”

I don’t want to hear another Pinoy basher, especially if that basher is Pinoy. If there is a problem, don’t look for someone to blame. It is your country. Fix it!

I could go on and on.

Not too long ago, I wished there was no more “wang-wang.” See? Wishes do come true!

Here’s a lovely New Year’s thought.

I quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce.

“Today, the first day of the year, we have opened the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to write the words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter begins on New Year’s Day.”