JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

“Happy New Year”

So I’ve been listening these past few days as my mother in law has happily wished people a happy new year. I, too, wish people a happy new year. But, really, I’m not sure why.

Does wishing people a happy new year impact the happiness of a new year? I’m being serious—do the words make even the slightest impact on the joy or lack thereof a person will experience over the 365 days of 2011? I know … I know—the conventional answer (and, I suppose, logical answer) is that the words are stated not as a utilitarian device, but simply in the name of kindess. Blah, blah.

I just think, when you really ponder this one, it’s silly and sorta stupid. When someone says, “Happy birthday!” on your actual birthday, well, I can see a direct connection. A person who loves you wants you to have a great day. On that day. It’s immediate, and might add to the glow. But a year is a long time. You wishing me a happy new year one time doesn’t guarantee prolonged success for my family, no leaks for my house, my book not winding up on the $1 shelf at Books-A-Million. Really, the words are just words, stated with the absentmindedness of a sneeze.

Ha. That was fun.

Happy new year!

PS: And why is “New Year” supposed to be capitalized? It’s sorta like ordering a Venti instead of a small.