LOS ANGELES TIMES: "At Midnight 2000: Ordinary Living and Extraordinary Life"

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Included here simply because its good writing, and good reading...


At Midnight 2000: Ordinary Living and Extraordinary Life

A yearned-for 'experience of a century' turned out to be at home, a time for experiencing small wonders and sharing great hope.


"How'd ya celebrate the New Year?"

I must have been asked that a dozen times on my first day back to work.

"What'd ya do? Did ya have a good time?"

In the months leading up to our century's end amid worries of Y2K disasters, I entertained a number of fantasies about how I might greet the New Year. I would spin recklessly from one scenario to another. Of course, each was predicated on the hope that the world as we know it would still be in operation.

If musing on one of those Indian summer days where sunsets bathe the Channel Islands in an orange and pink benediction, I would fancy myself seated serenely on the shore, welcoming in the next century in silent meditation. <> There was my Caribbean fantasy: While sipping Dom Perignon from a glass slipper I would mambo in the New Year barefoot on warm tropical sand. Or I'd swing to a big-band beat in San Francisco's swanky Sir Francis Drake Hotel with the Golden Gate city all aglow below.

Of course, I had my jet-set fantasies too: counting down with the throngs in New York, London or Paris. One of my most appealing visions was to travel to Rome and add my voice to those of countless others who for the past 2,000 years have been singing the prayers of the faithful.

Of course, my ultimate fantasy was to do all the above--a rhapsodic dance with all the world. It would culminate with everyone holding fragile glasses skyward, filled to the brim with that effervescent and ephemeral liquid joy, champagne, in universal toast to our perennial hope: to have a happy New Year. To know at long last a life of contentment.

Well, as it turned out, none of these fantastic scenarios was a part of my New Year's Eve celebration. Instead, I stayed at home--Christmas lights and tree still up, fireplace ablaze, dog cozied by the hearth, husband sprawled on the couch, my father playing the piano, my sister and her husband scarfing down the last of the Christmas cookies, all enjoying a visit from a true-blue friend.

Our "millennium coverage" was provided by my daughter, little brother and 3-year-old nephew who, with amplified microphones, led us in the final countdown to midnight. In the end, it was a night devoted to the kids, the children of this new century, our flesh and blood touchstone to the future.

In part, the celebration of the New Year and the coming millennium, both in my home and around the world, is perhaps the last vestige of our collective need to experience a liturgical life, in which the passage of time is marked with eternal significance. A life in which the calendar is not simply an instrument by which we count off our temporal days but rather a constant reminder of our participation in the unfolding mystery of life.

And although I didn't meditate on the shore or mambo in the tropics or dance beneath a mirror ball or recite the Nicene Creed in St. Peter's Square, although I didn't do a thousand things that promised to be the "experience of the century," I did reaffirm the significance of my life.

Within the confines of my ordinary life, I saw the extraordinary gift of daily living. And that, for me, is what holidays--holy days--are all about: special days set aside to remind us of the wonder of each new day.

I spent the New Year with those I love most in this world. Inside my modest home, my family and I danced, sang and made merry. And when the clock struck midnight, we lifted our glasses in accord in hopes that we and all the world will know a century filled with joy, prosperity and peace.

How did I celebrate the New Year?

Hopefully, by appreciating that each day is the dawning of a new year.

Alicia A. Reynolds Lives in Ventura and Teaches English at Oxnard High School


-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), January 09, 2000

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