Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

January 1, 2014

Food, football and the search for Baby New Year 2014 top off a lazy holiday

— — It is the first day of a new year. A time to relax, eat, watch football and reflect upon the year that was while also mapping out our goals, objectives, hopes and dare I say resolutions for 2014.

I’ve heard a lot of people say as you get older, time moves by a lot faster. Well I’ll certainly attest to the fact that 2013 went by awfully fast. One minute we were celebrating the arrival of 2013 — a year that some predicted would be dark and dismal simply because it was a year with an unlucky “13” in it — and now it is already over. For the most part 2013 proved to be a somewhat uneventful year. Yes, there were major national headlines, including the Boston Marathon terror attack, the federal government shutdown and the glitch-ridden website rollout of the Affordable Care Act. But not all of the doom and gloom some expected for 2014.

Today marks the beginning of the new year. That means the search for Baby New Year 2014 is already underway across the region. Veteran reporter Greg Jordan is charged today with tracking down the first birth of the new year. The first baby of the new year is always viewed as a sign of hope for the future. It’s a reminder of the fact that life must and will go on through future generations. That’s why we crown a Baby New Year each year.

The truth of the matter is we always like to start out a new year with a renewed sense of optimism and hope for the future. The first day of a new year is a chance to turn over a new leaf. It’s an opportunity for a clean slate. A chance to a better person. A better friend, neighbor and family member. An opportunity to hit the gym and lose a few pounds while also eating healthier in the process. A pledge to attend church on a more regular basis while also treating others as I would want them to treat me. An opportunity to focus more in life on the positive — as opposed to the negative.

But at the end of the day, we must also be a realist. Despite climate change, also known as global warming, we should still expect snowstorms here in the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. January is never an easy month when it comes to making the daily commute to and from work. There will be days when it is too cold — and roads are too snow covered and dangerous — to make it to the gym. There will also be days when a cheeseburger will replace the otherwise healthy salad due to time restrictions, or the local fast food restaurant using it’s favorite line, “I’m sorry but we are all out of salads.” Really? Maybe the big menu they have posted above the counter should say salads are only available until 6 p.m., because apparently no one is able to make a salad after 7 p.m. Go figure.

There will also be days when despite your best efforts at being nice, others will be bluntly rude toward you. The best you can do when this occurs is smile, say something nice to them and walk away. The new year also poses a unique challenge for procrastinators who are currently without health insurance. Come this March you will be in violation of the new Affordable Care Act law if you don’t have health insurance. After March, those who willingly don’t buy health insurance will face tax penalties. And the penalties will become costlier with each passing year that an individual goes without insurance. So much for freedom of choice.

We can also expect plenty of campaigning, mudslinging and bipartisan disagreements later this year. That’s because the midterm elections will be determined later this fall providing voters with an opportunity to say who — or more specifically which political party — will control the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. So enjoy all of the peace and calm while it lasts. Because before you realize it another election cycle will be upon us.

But today is a holiday. It’s a time not to think about elections, the Affordable Care Act or climate change. Nope. It’s a day to sit back and relax. Or if you don’t feel like staying at home, all of the stores will be open. So go out and shop. Help support the local economy. There will still be a football game on when you get home.

Happy New Year! May 2014 be a great one for you and your loved ones.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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