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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The unofficial countdown has begun. It usually starts at Halloween for me, but I am the kind of person who rushes the holidays. I never give myself a chance to enjoy the holidays because I am always so anxious for it to start. The next thing I know, the holidays are over and I am vowing to never let the holidays get away like that again.

This time of the year is my absolute favorite. I know that it brings sadness to some people and while I can respect that, I could never understand why. Not only is this the time of year that brings us Christmas -- easily the best day on the calendar -- but it is also brings the year to a close. It is our time to put everything into perspective and do our best to carry on. I have lost loved ones on Christmas Day, and it is not a good feeling. But the holiday pushes me forward, as it always has.

When the year gets closer to being over, I go on a cleaning spree. I used to work for a big Russian who made us clean our desks completely before the end of the year. He said it was a Russian tradition that allowed us to start fresh when the New Year arrived. I liked that so much that I adopted it and have used it ever since.

If there is mourning to do at this time of the year (and there is), then I find the time to do it properly. But when the clock ticks down those last 10 seconds on New Year’s Eve, I can feel the year slowly slipping away. I feel all of the pain and the stress of the past 364 days fade, and I can feel the downward pull of the past year weakening. When that ball lights up and the New Year arrives, I open my front door to hear the fireworks. A New Year has arrived. It is time to go back to square one and try to get it right.

As I get older, the urgency to use the New Year to reset my life grows. I only have so many years left, and I want to finally get the things done that I keep meaning to do. When December starts, I suddenly put down my quill pen and lose the desire to work on my novels. I don’t know why it happens. It just does. But when I wake up the morning of January 1st, I am behind the keyboard furiously pounding away on my next epic. That is what happened at the beginning of this year, and it will happen with more earnest in 2016.

Saying that you are going to simply reset yourself and start from square one is not something you can just decide to do. It took me years before I could actually feel the previous year slip away like water on my back as I turn off the shower. When those fireworks go off and the ball drops, it is like an alarm clock for me. In past years, I really made more plans than I kept. From now on, it has to be much different.

When you look forward to something like I look forward to Christmas each year, it has a way of marking your own time. I’m not the healthiest person in the world (although I am getting better with that) and I am a real klutz. But I have good DNA on my side as both sides of my family tend to live well into their late 70’s and early 80’s. I have a feeling that whether I want to live that long or not, I probably will. The good thing is that most of my family members were completely lucid almost to the very end. So I will be a smart ass right up until the very end.

Christmas is on the way and the New Year is right behind it. This is both the most wonderful and the most contemplative time of the year for me. Did I achieve all of my goals in 2015? Not even close. Do I have the luxury of not achieving my goals in 2016? No, I don’t. I either make things happen, or I fade away. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t fade away.

This isn’t the annual year in review column. That is not for a couple of more weeks. This isn’t the Merry Christmas column either. That is also a couple of weeks away. This is just a suggestion that if you look at this time of the year as a chance to put a nice red bow on the lousy year you just lived through and the opportunity to go back to square one and start all over again, then it isn’t so bad. Man, I love the holidays. I always have, and I always will.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and local expert on anything to do with the holidays. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or email him at

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