So, Old Man Time has surrendered. Baby New Year has ascended to the throne. Another year has come; and, yes, still one more has gone. In mediaeval Europe, a crier would announce the end of reign for one king by declaring his death with the proclamation of the emergence of the following. “The King is dead. Long live the King!”
As a youngster fascinated with stories of Arthur and the chivalrous knights of the round table, the concept flummoxed me. How could we celebrate the end of one leader with the inauguration of another? Perhaps it is the wisdom of advancing age, but it makes a bit more sense now. They were not “rejoicing” in the demise but instead in the peaceful transition from one leader to the next. The crier was reassuring the people of kingdom that, in spite of the loss, we could expect safe and steady passage.
We knew what we had. It may not have been perfect, but we understood and found comfort there. The future, whether we are optimists or pessimists, is always a bit less clear. What can we expect in this new and unknown year to come? Will it improve our lives and be remembered as the rule of a tremendous and benevolent time? Or, will it challenge us with heartbreak and hardship only to bring our disdain and ache for its quick passage? Who knows? But, the proclamation has come. The year is gone. Long live the New Year. In it we invest our hopes, loyalty, and good wishes. In it, we pray for joy over sadness, health over infirmity, and prosperity over poverty.
All that can be affirmatively claimed is that we have been securely conveyed into the New Year. And, as it presents its opportunities and challenges, they are ours to confront.