Happy New YearBy Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 1/2001

What if they gave a millennium and no one cared?

Unlike the galactic hype accompanying New Year’s Eve 2000, the dawn of the true millennium seemed almost a non-event. Besides the inevitable comparison of the predictions made in “2001: A Space odyssey” to the current world, even the media didn’t devote an enormous amount of coverage to this New Years.

In fact, New Year’s 2001 seemed such a non-event that the bigger news story was the blizzard that wasn’t. For a week, the meteorologists were heralding the upcoming blizzard as the biggest since the April Fool’s Storm of 1997.

We reacted as predicted; over New Year’s weekend the bread shelves at supermarkets were emptied and the lines at the video stores were twenty deep. By Saturday afternoon, with all of us hunkered down with our survival gear (milk, bread, chocolate, movies) we gradually noticed that the snow had stopped and a loud chorus of “That’s it?” resounded. That night, the disappointment in the meteorologist’s faces was so obvious it was funny.

But the relatively mild storm allowed First Night to continue, and the next night, thousands of people crowded into Boston and countless other New Year’s activities, but there was something missing. Something different. In hindsight, it was obvious: This year, New Year’s failed to deliver.

But how could it not? The celebration a year ago was planet-wide in its scope; the largest and most unbelievable celebration any of us have ever seen. It was wonderful. It was glorious. All of humanity partied.

We expected that something amazing was coming. We had been “millenniumed” for four years. We had been flooded and saturated with millennium this and Y2K that.

And then, 2000 unfolded, and turned out to be an ordinary year. Events big and small happened, holidays came and went, and the universe continued to expand. Locally, there were many memorable events in 2000; some were wonderful, and others gave new meaning to the word tragedy.

But in the end, worldwide, 2000 was just another year. Certainly the biggest coming our party any year has ever seen, but still just a year. Nothing more or less.

Every December 31, as we ring in the New Year, we expect things to be different. To be better. We want to file away the previous year and start fresh. We reminisce, party a little or a lot, and make grand resolutions we probably can’t keep, and hope everything will be new and shiny in the morning

But the icy jangle of the alarm clock wakes us up on January 2, and the world is still the same. It’s still the dead of winter, cold and dark out, the sun remains a dim and ineffective 40-watt light bulb in the sky, and we return to the routine of life. School. Work. Ice. Cold. Snow. Bills.

At its core, New Year’s is a great time to reflect, to reminisce, to make resolutions and hope for a better year, but beyond that, we shouldn’t take it too seriously. Resolutions will be made and broken repeatedly, and things will not change overnight. As the song goes, “All is quiet on New Year’s Day, nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” Real change is gradual, and often takes place while we’re too busy to notice.

Happy REAL millennium!

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