By Morak Babajide-Alabi
The month of December is traditionally associated with Christmas celebrations and the crossover to a new year. Christmas is also identified as a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In the true mood of the season, we are treated to nativity stories. The focus of these plays is usually a recap of how the three wise men undertook the famous journey to locate the newborn saviour of the world.
Christmas has transcended religion. It is celebrated all over the world, no matter the colour, tribe, or religion. There is no doubt that the religious essence of the season is downplayed, forgotten or deliberately lost. It is now regarded as a holiday season prior to the end of the year. In recent times, the most dramatic change to Christmas is the commercial take over. Companies now compete to gain our attention and sell us wares we don’t actually need. As it is the season of merriment, we rarely think twice before we click “Buy”.
Immediately after Christmas, we prepare for the change over from the current year to a new year. Elaborate plans are made by individuals, corporate organisations, agencies and governments toward this. From New York to Tokyo, to Brisbane, drums are rolled out and millions of hard currencies are spent on fireworks to herald the new year. Tonight would not be any different as we will all pour out to wave goodbye to 2017 and usher in 2018.
By tomorrow we will be in another year – 2018. The first day of the year is always a remarkable day for us. Not because it is different from other days of the year. No. There is really nothing that makes it different from any other day of the year. The day breaks like every other day. The sun rises normal and the moon comes out shining same way like any other day. And we retire to bed and sleep like any other day.
Despite all these, there is still something different about January 1. We all celebrate, because, to every human being, it is a new day. It is accepted as a new dawn and a new beginning with lots of possibilities and opportunities in a fresh year. Our mental attitude towards this day is positive because we have conditioned our minds that we are starting afresh and old things have passed away.
For unexplainable reasons, January 1 holds hope for so many of us. The hope of better things to come and the strong belief that some things will change. For the unemployed, for example, the hope of getting a job is suddenly high. It does not matter if this runs against logic, as no company or employer conducts mass recruitment in January. I have heard it said many times that it may be a mere change of calendar dates, some things do happen in the spiritual realm in the early days that can either make or mar the whole year.
It will be another full circle by tomorrow. But the preparations for tomorrow start in the consciousness of many of us today. Tonight, many of us will, probably for the first time this year, head towards the church and other places of worship. It does not matter what state we are or will be, as the long hand of the clock moves towards twelve, it is a signal for us to dust our religious shoes and join the crowd.
No time of the year would the church or other worship centres be as busy as tonight. The doors will be flung open for us all to come in and literally pray off our “bad” deeds and move into the new year with a clean slate. Tonight we would be excused for coming into the church slightly drunk or tipsy. All we want is to be close to God as we shout Happy New Year 2018.
Some of us will head back to the beer parlours to “celebrate” and get a fresh dose of alcohol. A few sober ones will head home to reflect on the past year and set resolutions for the new year. They will think over the mistakes they made and make mental notes on how to avoid them in the new year.
Generally, many of us will make resolutions for the year. Even, when this does not cross our minds, we are prompted by the people around us. I remember years ago when my father would always ask me what my resolutions for the year were. These questions soon became routine. I knew what he wanted, so through my teenage years, my answers were same – to be a more responsible boy, wash the cars and help around the house. Or say something as vague as “I will study more this year.” Every time I say this, I saw his face lit up.
Soon, making these resolutions became a tradition for me. But my heart was never in them. Despite the fact that sometimes I wrote them down in my diaries, there was never the willpower or the grace to carry through. It is when I had done anything wrong that I got reminded of the resolutions that I made. There was no commitment.
As I became older, my understanding of resolutions changed entirely. I realised that there is a difference between making resolutions and setting goals and working out plans for the tasks ahead. I have not stopped making resolutions; I have only changed my perception of them.
I know a lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. This is good. But ask most of us what our resolutions are; you probably hear people say “I am eating less this year,” “I will drink more water this year”. Then you wonder if sometimes resolutions do not make kids out of adults.
Have you made your resolutions for 2018? Does it include one to be a better person in the new year? If yes, I am sorry to say that you may never ever achieve this. You ask me why? Because it takes more than resolutions to turn a bad person around just because it is the new year. You will need to work on so many other things. And above all, you shall need the help of God, to help you in the turnaround.
The first few days of any new year is always slow business for pub owners and cigarette manufacturers. This is the time of the year when a lot of alcoholics and smokers turn around, “deceiving” themselves hiding behind the new year resolutions pretending to “forsake” their habits. It does not take long before they find their ways back to the pubs, and on the way down, lighting a stick of cigarette is usually not a bad idea.
I know some do turn it around for good, but to be honest, the percentage of these people is low.
So what’s your resolution? Let’s talk about yours before we ask for our leaders’.
As published in the Sunday Vanguard of December 31, 2017.