My son, Kyle, asked an interesting question the other day:
“Why does the ‘new year’ began on January 1st?”
Admittedly, I didn’t know the answer. I’ve since discovered that it’s a short question with a long and fairly complicated answer.The snapshot version is that Roman emperor Julius Caesar wanted to flex some political muscle and put the entire empire on one consistent calendar. The date January 1was selected because it was the day that new consuls were chosen.
If your family is like ours, and has children in school, the year tends to revolve around the school calendar. For others, the four seasons help to mark and measure the high (and low) points of the year.
But the passage of time is a funny thing, especially when you try to measure its quantity in relation to tasks, or attempt to figure out why some years seem to fly by and others seem to last forever.
A friend of mine told me of a sign that covered the clock in his 8th grade classroom:Time will pass. Will you?Fortunately, he did.
Why is it that the year my son was born, a joyous time to be sure, remains, according to my memory, at least, as one of the longest of my life?Was it because he was in the ICU for a month, then strapped to a heart monitor for six months? Is it because we practically lived at the doctor’s office and our days were full of appointments and all the stress and worry that accompany a premature child?
At the same time that years seems to have lasted forever, it feels like it all happened just yesterday.How could my little son grow so big, so fast? I once pondered the possibility that this strange sensation and differential regarding the passage of time could be explained or proven by a mathematical equation. Could it have something to do with a ratio, such as the duration of the event, coupled with the energy and emotion expended during its occurrence?
In other words, does the memory of struggle help keep a memory more vivid than a season of ease?Maybe yes, maybe no. But does it really matter?
As I walk down my family’s hallway of memories, I’m struck by the fact that each and every moment, whether they seems like they happened yesterday or twenty years ago, have shaped us in profound and meaningful ways.In fact, there are plenty of days lost to the ages, and the winds of time, but they, too, have left there mark on us.
It’s my prayer that in this coming year your family and mine will embrace the time we’re given.As Family Circus creator Bill Keane once said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery. But today? Today is a gift.That’s why we call it the present.”