This may be one of the most important times in modern history to remind ourselves New Year celebrations are manufactured. Like plastic, they are real and artificial.
You know the online meme that talks about sneaking up on 2022 so we don't disturb it? A new year is a social construct, not a scientific principle. That knowledge could relieve us of the pressure to mould the next 12 months into something welcoming and wonderful.
Two-thousand and twenty-two, like a toddler or teenager, will do its own thing. Tell it to clean its room and it'll sulk for an hour before pushing a pile of clothing into the centre of the floor.
I predict in the coming days or months, the pandemic will wane - or get worse.
My teenagers will co-operate - and Google reasons not to.
My students will turn in work on time - and beg for extensions because the computer ate their assignment.
My business writing clients will hire me for ongoing projects - and go quiet during weeks when my calendar has breathing space.
My house will be tidy - and accumulate fuzzy dust blankets.
I will exercise every day - and look at my watch to discover keeping my bum on a seat for hours generates very few steps.
I will tell my editor I'm not writing columns over the holidays in 2022 - then tap out a few words because just like in 2021, my family will engage in the dark art of sudoku and I'd rather play with words than with numbers.
With predictions this broad, I should write horoscopes or fortune cookie messages. My latest cookie missive says, "You will soon be honoured by someone you respect." I take this to mean my dog will pay tribute by wagging her tail when I return from a 30-minute errand.
According to earthsky.org, the New Year's Day concept stems from ancient Romans. Janus was the god of beginnings, transitions and time. It's also where the name of January comes from, "since Janus was depicted as having two opposite faces. One face looked back into the past, and the other peered forward to the future".
The new year wasn't always on January 1. Livescience.com reports ancient Mesopotamians celebrated their 12-day New Year's festival on the spring equinox, while the Greeks partied around the winter solstice about December 20. Egyptians celebrated another lap around the sun in July.
Modern cultures also provide opportunities to consider alternative new beginnings, like the Chinese New Year, which starts February 1; Islamic New Year in July; and Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - in September.
Take your pick.
One of my new beginnings happens when I clean my oven, which happens maybe once a year. I have pledged about a half dozen times to never do this task again. I'm considering buying an air fryer so I don't have to use the oven, which cooks unevenly, anyways.
Another new beginning, at least for my wardrobe, is when I buy new socks and underwear. This thrills me more than it should.
Master 16 getting a moped to drive himself around is another new beginning until he breaks the law or a bone and I take the keys.
Miss 17 turning 18 at the end of this month is a new beginning, since she will become a fully-functioning adult who no longer needs financial support from her mum (just kidding).
We get to choose our own version of the first of January every day. This is freeing and daunting at once.
We can also choose, to some degree, our level of happiness. Several studies have shown happiness is linked to lowered expectations. Managing expectations so they are neither too high nor too low is key.
This is especially important while on holiday. On the one hand, I don't want to assume everything will go to plan and my teens will be equally delighted with our trip to visit family in America. On the other hand, believing the holiday will be miserable and beset with sickness and bad weather isn't any fun, either.
Today is a new beginning. So is every other day.