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Every new year is a cause for celebration

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By Janny Wilcke

New Year’s Eve has never meant a huge celebration for my husband and me.

We were married on Dec. 28, and our second daughter was born Dec. 27. Between those occasions and Christmas, we have never been much in the mood to party on New Year’s Eve. Still, for about 20 years when I was younger, I eagerly looked forward to Dec. 31, more than any other holiday.

When my first baby was just starting to crawl, I gave up smoking after reading an article about a toddler that almost died after swallowing a cigarette. My imagination being what it is, I could see my daughter crawling straight to my pack when I wasn’t looking, and so I quit out of fear of that happening. And, while I still had the craving, I never smoked a single cigarette for over five years.

Then I gave birth to our first son. He was a fussy baby, and I felt overwhelmed caring for him and his two sisters. One day when a girl friend visited, I fell off the wagon and smoked a cigarette. After a brief guilty period of zoning out with a cigarette now and then, I came up with a plan to quit and smoke. In the future – starting Dec. 31, 1975 – I would smoke only on New Year’s Eve.

As bizarre as my plan sounds, it worked. It’s exactly what I did for about twenty years.  A day or two in advance, I would buy a fresh pack of cigarettes and then smoke from the crack of dawn until we rang in the New Year, a long glorious day of indulgence. It was as if I had never quit – although I always woke on Jan. 1 with a headache and a nasty taste in my mouth. But I was also confident in my resolve not to smoke again for another entire year. And I never did.

I wouldn’t try this if I were you. Friends who knew about my annual ‘smoke-in’ felt that my capacity to enjoy – immensely, I might add – twenty cigarettes only one day out of three hundred and sixty-five was an odd and rare quirk of my nature.  I prefer not to think of it as a quirk; rather an indication that I am an individual of great resolve, but I’ll let that go. I finally stopped about 15 years ago.

My husband, on the other hand, is not the sort to make a big deal of New Year’s resolutions. He has never been able to understand my all-or-nothing attitude. He never saw the sense in smoking one day of the year only to abstain for the next three hundred and sixty four. More moderate, he has always smoked his cigars on special occasions or with a friend; basically, whenever he chooses.

Smoking a whole pack might not have been a good way to end the old year, but not smoking was a healthy way to begin the new one. Lots of folks take a “last drink” or eat their “last dessert” on New Year’s Eve, planning to deny themselves those pleasures in the year ahead. And that’s why I’ve always felt New Year’s is such a neat holiday. I see it as a day of hope and faith that the future will improve on the past, a day when we acknowledge our weaknesses and vow to do battle with them.

Every New Year is a cause for celebration. Whether you ring it in with a last fling, like me, or take it in stride like my husband, I wish you a year of health, peace, laughter and happiness.