IN my last article for 2017, I wrote about a “Politically correct Christmas story?”. I didn’t share this with my grandkids. But I retained a clipping of that article for them to muse upon when they are older and have shed their innocence and sense of wonder and have become “grown-ups,” starting their lives of cynicism and distrust. By then I may have been gone from their lives.
On my first column this year, 2018, I will write on the concept of a “new year” that is different for each culture and perhaps extract what single important factor compels people to resolve to change some aspect of their lives for the rest of the year; aside from the coming year being a “fresh start” of a series of 12 months or so.
First, there is nothing new about New Year. We have had an eternal cycle of new years since man started keeping track of time and the seasons. This was simply a convention formalized by Pope Gregory XIII to synchronize the earth’s seasons with those of the Christian religious celebrations, particularly Easter no, which is normally celebrated on the first day of spring, or the vernal equinox. This confusion was largely caused by the 364 and 1/4th days of the Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar and used by the Western world for 1,600 yrs.
The Gregorian Calendar is now universally accepted although some Muslim countries still use, for religious purposes, an Islamic calendar based on the Hijrah (July 622 AD), when Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Madinah. These instructions are basically based on the Qur’an and his pronouncements that, “With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumaada and Sha’ban.” In some sense, the Gregorian and Islamic calendars don’t synchronize and therefore Islamic New Year is not celebrated on January 1.
Chinese New Year likewise is not celebrated in the first day of January. Known as the Spring Festival based on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, it is a movable date. Compared to the Gregorian Calendar, Chinese New Year roughly falls between January 21 and February 20, as it begins with the new moon.
In the Rabbinical Jewish tradition, New Year is celebrated as Rosh Hashanah, commemorating the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the creation’s first man and woman. This is roughly equivalent to the Gregorian calendar date of September 9, 2018. In other denominations of the Jewish faith, celebration of New Year falls on different dates.
But for most of us following the Gregorian calendar, every January 1, people from all walks of life put thoughts and promises into paper. I do this intermittently myself and used to list down five New Year’s resolutions. There is something magical about the number 5; thus, I never put on paper less than or more than 5. It’s always “My 5 New Year’s Resolutions.” Maybe 5 resolutions are doable; beyond 5 are impossible to hold on to.
In my experience, twenty percent of these resolutions, I normally hold on to for two weeks, then I’m left with 4 for the next 52 weeks. But somewhere between January and May 4, my birthdate, I drop them all. Some resolutions I have been doing repeatedly for several years now but was successful only 50 percent of the time. I have kept some of the resolutions on a leather-covered notebook (a gift from my GF).
In 1974, I resolved to reduce my alcohol intake and stop smoking. This was easy as this was the first year after I decided to make my GF an ex, and we were expecting our first child. My pocket then could no longer afford tuba, kotil & sioktong– the alcohol of choice of people from Calinan. But I did stop smoking Snowman for a few weeks. I was a healthy 174 lbs. (77kgs).
In the coming years, as I inched up the socio-economic ladder, I acquired tastes commensurate to my status. I started on beer and indulged in whisky – preferably scotch; and smoked Philip Morris and Salem Menthol 100.
In 1985, reluctant to give up the finer things in life, I resolved (in fact pressured by my better-half), to go into a physical fitness regimen for 12 months; considering too that Lara and Carlo were now 11 and 8 years old, respectively. I gave up cigarettes and switched to Habanos and Tabacalera Coronas. I bloated to 190 lbs (86 kgs).
My regimen lasted two months, more or less, as the parliament of the streets that started in the last quarter of 1983 became a substitute. This turmoil built-up to a climax in February 1986, when I was recruited into government. Perhaps the pressure and stress under Cory’s government ballooned me up to an unhealthy 210 lbs (93 kgs). None of my new year’s resolutions were kept. And I had acquired chronic obstructive pulmonary Disease (COPD).
The morning of January 1, 2018, Oliver, my two-year-old woke me up with him sitting on my tummy irreverently calling out “fat tummy Lolo”. I already gave up cigars and cigarettes and moderated my alcohol intake shifting to Lagarde Malbec and Argentinian Chardonnay and Torrontes, but my bathroom scale insolently registered my weight at an unhealthy 240 lbs. (109kgs). At breakfast with my family, I asked their opinion about New Year’s resolutions.
Max, my five year 9 nine months oldest grandkid volunteered. And here on record is another list of 5 New Year’s resolution; in his raw language.
“Lolo, I want you not to be cranky. You are always cranky…I heard this from Momsie,” (his Lola Sylvia, my tormentor and my wife).
“Don’t go to MCD (McDonald’s) and only eat good sandwiches”.
“Take less sugar, and eat less cake even on your birthday”.
“Exercise more on your gym, Lolo”
“I want you to be healthy and don’t get a heart attack”.
This last item is the unspoken core of my grandson’s anxieties as he still can’t accept the possibility of his Lolo leaving him and going to heaven. I think I have found at last my motivations for carrying out my New Year’s resolutions. And if I fail again, I will just restart my 5 New Year’s resolution not on another new year but perhaps on my birthday May 4.
Happy New Year, a prosperous one and a safe 2018 to all!