Growing up, New Years never really held a special significance for me. Mostly it just meant that Christmas was over and along with that, winter break, so school was just around the corner and the long, cold, gray trudge toward spring began. Even as a young adult I never found it particular poignant, sure I celebrated with friends, and I spent quite a few New Year’s eves in Chicago with family. That was a tradition that I became particularly fond of, it was always accompanied by fun, my favorite people, a surf and turf spread that would make a shellfish lover drool, and drinks a plenty. There was also occasionally a bottle of Dom Perignon, or some fireworks, needless to say, enough fun, food, and libation to make your head swim for a few days. Again, it was fun and exciting and I wouldn’t change a thing, but I never made it particularly significant personally.
In 2000, I did have a pretty big year; I was going to be getting married, I had reconnected with my dad who had been estranged since I was a kid, I Ieft college, and had a pretty great job. That year, I spent some time with my dad on the way to Chicago for my annual ritual. Sting‘s “Brand New Day” was playing, it seemed to be part of my soundtrack all year long. As my dad and I were discussing hopes, dreams, and ambitions, as well as mistakes and missed opportunities, I felt the rumblings of that New Year’s personal inventory and subsequent reset taking form.
The next year was even bigger, I now was married and living with my wife in our new appartment. That following January, I found my self on a nearly empty plane taking a trip with my new wife and inlaws. The plane, and resort we went to went to were both nearly empty since we were traveling only a few short months after september 11. From the newsstand at the airport I picked up the most recent issue of one of my favorite men’s periodicals to read on the plane. As I read the advice on travel, food, clothing, and lifestyle I began that personal inventory once more, thinking on how I can better in all the areas of my life going in to the new year. Who knows, this could have been the genesis of the idea for How to be Swell. Now, every year since I have a private mental ritual of taking stock of what I have accomplished in the year, and what I want to accomplish in the new year to be a better me.
This year ended very well; we reached some big financial goals, got some medical related annoyances taken care of, we even replaced Mrs. Swell‘s car, but it was quite the hard path leading to here. I told a friend on the phone this week that I wasn’t ready for 2014, after such a momentous year I wanted to rest on my laurels before diving into a new year. I realized that I hadn’t yet done my personal ritual, so on New Year’s eve I did just that. And in preparation for 2014; I got a new hairstyle, picked up a new harmonica, had a chat with my best friend in Germany a little after midnight his time, rang in the new year with my wife and best friends state-side, and after I dropped the sitter off, I popped on that good old Sting song. And now I am ready 2014!
So what do I plan to accomplish this year? Well, I had a good year, so we will save the major life changing goals for another time in favor of a few fun resolutions:
- I plan to relearn how to play the harmonica, I played it well as a kid, and I decided it is time to pick it up again. I dream of surprising all of my friends by whipping it out some night and jamming with some cool band, but we’ll see.
- I also plan to learn to play the Banjo, not in some ironic hipster sort of way, but because it is cool, unique, and still pretty relevant in music.
- I will take a trip someplace cool, San Diego, might be nice, Germany would be even better. We will see how the cards fall, but it will be some where.
- I plan to complain less, and laugh more, because lets face it, we all should do that.
And most of all, I will continue to strive to be swell.