Some years back, a friend of mine recounted to me the New Year's Eve tradition of burning the old year's calendar in the fireplace after a particularly bad year. The idea sat uneasy with me, though I could never quite articulate why. I suppose the closest I can come to an explanation is, "Don't tempt fate." Those noises from the fireplace might just sound like the crackle of pages curling and burning, but if you listen closely, you can hear the whisper of the old year saying, "You think I was bad? Wait until you meet my bitch of a little sister."
So I never burned a calendar.
Lately, it occurs to me that there's a second reason for not burning the calendar: because it's unfair to the old year. Let me explain.
We have such high hopes for new years. After 365 days that, as an aggregate, did not go quite as hoped, a new year is a positive relief. So bright. So shiny. So un-messed up.
Until, of course, it is. Sooner, usually, rather than later, and then you're stuck with this clunky, nearly-new year that lost much of its value as soon as you drove it off the lot. And you can't sell it on Craigslist, can't trade it, can't get an upgrade for, say, 361 days. No one can. Only cell-phone companies, and possibly Satan, have more airtight contracts than Father Time.
What are you going to do? You can't very well say, "Crap, I dented my new year! I'm just going to sit right here until another one gets delivered." You can't. You have to keep going with the one you have. Maybe you can buff out the scratches a little bit, maybe the damage is so huge that everyone around you can see how badly your year's been dented. They might wonder how you can keep rolling in the face of such a wreck, and you might wonder, too. But on you roll, even if slowly and with much grinding of gears. Through day 89, and 111, and 235. Onward.
There's only one way to get out of your crappy, banged-up dented ride early, and you don't want to take it. If your year gets totaled, so do you.
So if your wreck of a year lurched into the garage last night at 11:59, exhaled a toxic cloud of smoke, and expired, don't kick it and curse it. Be grateful. It got you here, and now you've got a sweet new ride. Make the most of it.