New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are an extended celebration of “out with the old, in with the new.” And in the case of 2008, there is a lot of the old that we are more than happy to put behind us.
From the earthquake in China that killed 12,000 people, to Hurricane Ike’s devastation in Texas; from the Russia-Georgia conflict to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai; from the petty sniping and rumor-mongering of the presidential campaign to the accusations that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to auction Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder. There was the housing market’s nose dive, federal bailouts of the banking and auto industries and the dollar’s devaluation to second-class currency on global markets.
But with the bad, there was some good. Obama’s election in November made its mark in history and filled many voters with high — arguably too high — hopes for the future. American swimmer Michael Phelps made the Beijing Olympics his own, bringing home a record eight gold medals.
Unfortunately, that’s about it.
Like many Americans, Linda Grist Cunningham, editor of the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, narrowed her focus, telling the Associated Press:
“As far as I am concerned, there were only two stories this year: Global economy collapses (sending every country into financial, political and personal chaos) and Obama elected U.S. president, changing the way the America does business — financial, political and personal.”
On Sunday, some folks took action on that whole “may old acquaintance be forgot” thing by taking part in “Good Riddance Day” in New York’s Times Square. The group that puts on the New Year’s Eve ball-drop megaparty set up an industrial strength shredder for people to do away with their bad memories of 2008.
Kathryn Bonn of New York City, who shredded a printout of her boyfriend’s e-mail breaking up with her, told AP, “This is the perfect way to move on from a bad year, from a bad experience.”
As we noted in this space a year ago: “The passing from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 continues to hold great symbolism for many of us. It is an impetus for renewal, for change, for rededication to things that have fallen into the margins of our lives for any of a thousand reasons.”
Here’s to a happier, healthier, less tumultuous 2009. We all could use it.