I have the same thought every year at this time.

            I have the same thought every year at this time.

Maybe it’s ESPN’s fault. You turn over there and they are doing the “10 best plays of the past year”. Or the “10 worst”. Time Magazine picks its Man of the Year. The Golf Channel will show you the “10 best shots of 2013”. Every news network is awash with their picks for the most noteworthy stories of the “old” year.

At the same time…..and often on the same channel……someone is boldly predicting what the stock market is going to do in 2014. How much will a U. S. postal stamp go up in the next twelve months? Which foreign nation will be the “hot spot” in the upcoming year? Someone right now is on Good Morning America pontificating on what fashion craze or new reality show is about to take the nation by storm. And, as you are so aware, New Year’s predictions are in full bloom.

My head is about to swivel off my neck! I can’t figure out if we are looking back……or projecting forward in the waning days of yet, another year.

This confusion started in grade school. We’d come back from a wonderful two week holiday and Miss Carolyn would immediately go around the room with the obligatory “What did you do during the Christmas break”? I’d listen to Anne tell about her trip to Memphis or Suzie’s puppy knocking over the Christmas tree or Ricky’s uncle driving all the way from Paducah to bring him a gift.

They are moving down the row toward me and I can’t think of one interesting thing I did over the break!  No one wants to hear about the fight me and David Mark had over the Chinese checkers. Sliding down that hill beside George Sexton’s house on a piece of cardboard isn’t exactly scintillating news. And watching Leon do something utterly flabbergasting had become so common place that I didn’t even think about writing them down (much less getting up in class and talking about them) until just a few years ago. 

I would be sweating in January by the time Miss Carolyn called on me!

She would usually finish up the past year’s “confessions” about lunch time. After we ate our peanut butter and banana sandwich and had the perfunctory twenty minute rest period she’d start back around the room with “What is your favorite prediction for the new year”? Are you kidding me? She said “favorite” like she expected we all had more than one!

Here we’d go in the other direction! This time Jane would be talking about taking her dog on long walks in the new year, Diana would pledge to study harder and Yogi would have some hair brain scheme that involved gunpowder, bottle rockets and the slow moving L&N freight train that rolled through town on its way to Jackson. By the time she got down to Pam, right in front of me, I’d have my eyes closed praying for some great vision to leap into my mind. I didn’t, of course, see nothing!

            Apparently, I wasn’t looking in any direction. 

            I was just trying to have the most fun I could each day without hurting myself, or someone else. I wasn’t too prone to studying on the past. And I reckon I wasn’t smart enough to gaze too far into the future. I was interested in where the ballgame was THAT DAY. I was pedaling that Western Flyer as hard as I could to get somewhere RIGHT NOW. We didn’t think about breakfast at noon……we thought about lunch! We didn’t dwell all day Friday on the Saturday matinee. We chased Indians and fought mountain lions on Friday……we caught up with Roy, Hoppy or Gene the next day!

            In January of 1957, we reconvened for the second half of the fourth grade in Miss Mildred’s top floor room. Didn’t one person in the whole class predict those Russians were going to send up that Sputnik thing. We didn’t have a TV so I don’t know if Good Morning America called that shot or not. Nobody was picking the Milwaukee Braves to beat the Yankees in the World Series. Everybody liked Ike but he didn’t do one thing in the whole year to help keep hog prices at a livable level.

            We got to talk about all those things when we were looking back at the end of 1957 in Miss Cox’s class. Of course, by then, it was too late to do anything about them! We could have played six innings or jumped the big ditch across from where Luther Purvis lived while we were discussing it!

            I’m not saying grown-ups have gotten this “looking backwards/predicting forward” thing wrong. But it sure seems we give it a lot of space and air time today. Maybe we’ve got too many TV channels! Or too much free time. If you want to lose weight or quit smoking, why wait until next year? And don’t tell me you are still dwelling on some misunderstanding that happened last February!

            You don’t need Diane Sawyer or Sigmund Freud here. Get up with me and Yogi. We’ll put together some gunpowder and see if that L&N train is still running through McKenzie.


               Happy New Year,