Think about it. You’re not memorializing lost troops or paying respect to veterans. You’re not celebrating a religious feast or marking the founding of a nation. You’re not even tipping your cap to some great leader.
No, today is simply a celebration of, well, today. You can read into that how you choose.
You could argue, for instance, that by marking the New Year — and with it, the steady march of time — you’re celebrating the simple fact that you’re still here, after all these years, in the same way you celebrate even the off-year birthdays. (Remember what you did for your 27th? No? There probably was a cake involved.)
You could reason that, after the warm glow of Christmas, you celebrate New Year’s Day because you’re just not ready to let go of the holidays, feeling a little too hung-over on the festive cheer.
Or you could say you’re a little too hung-over, period, and the federal government did you a solid by deciding to scrap work today.
Or — and this is the argument we’re making — you could rationalize New Year’s Day as something else entirely. You could say that, like everyone else, you’re so hungry for a chance at renewal that, when you see the calendar reset itself at midnight to 1/1, you also see a silver-lined opportunity to hit the reset button on yourself, to make like Jay Gatsby and morph into some impeccably mannered tycoon, even if the way you choose to make that change generally manifests itself in a resolution to get to the gym five times a week, or show up at work half-an-hour early — OK, make it 15 minutes early — from here on out.
In other words, you could say New Year’s Day is about the chance to make a change.
After all, there is only one reason to make a New Year’s resolution, and it has nothing to do with Baby New Year or Father Time, not really. The reason to make those resolutions is because somewhere in your bones, in at least some small way, you know you can do better.
We misspoke earlier when we said New Year’s is a celebration of a day.
It’s not. Honestly, it’s not really a celebration of anything.
Instead, it’s the only holiday that asks you to take a momentary break from celebrating, stare hard into your own mirror and ask a fairly simple question: Is that the best you can do? So, is it?