The Impending Dawn of a New Year
by Al Albers
It’s hard to believe that the end of the calendar year is almost upon us once again. As I sit and reflect about the events that occurred over the past 11 months, I hark back to 1999 and the countdown to the arrival of the year 2000. As I recall, there wasn’t a day when we didn’t read a tidbit about the highly anticipated event that became widely known as “Y2K.” Here are a few of the attention-grabbing events that I remember from the last year of the last millennium.
Branches of the local U.S. Post Office had an electronic clock counting down the seconds, the minutes, the hours, and the days until the end of the year. In Norfolk, Virginia there was a billboard with this same information alongside Interstate 64. The local newspaper had a daily “Year 2000 Countdown” on the front page banner.
Williamsburg, Virginia – about an hour’s ride from Virginia Beach – was touting the virtues of spending one’s time in 18th Century America. That meant having no pagers, no phones, no television, and, well I think you get the idea. I don’t know how many people took them up on their offer, but I wasn’t one of them.
Even the local radio and television stations were doing various programming features. One radio station devoted its morning show to popular television jingles, commercials, and witticisms. Here are a few examples … how many do you remember?
“A little dab will do you.”
“Where’s the beef?”
“Things go better with?”
“Take it off."
“See the USA in your?"
Since you’ve obviously read this far, here are the answers:
Brylcream (a men’s hair product);
Wendy’s Hamburger commercial;
Noxzema medicated comfort shave (a brand of men’s shaving cream); and,
Another local radio station spotlighted the twenty most influential musicians and/or music groups of the 20th Century. They even had special segments throughout the day featuring the music made famous by the individual and/or group. For listeners, it was a chance to hear some songs that are, sadly, barely played on the radio. On television, NBC aired its “Time and Again 2000,” sort of a one-minute retrospective look at an event that helped shape history both stateside and abroad.
Personally, I liked the snippets that were sporadically run during commercials. Television viewers were given a small dose of World and American History events. It was educational and was taught in a manner unlike anything people were used to seeing or hearing. On a lighter note, for me, some of the years that were featured brought back fond memories.
Of course the big question that was repetitively asked was, “What grand plans do you have for the evening as you await the start of the beginning of the new year/century/millennium?” Some people said that their plans were to travel overseas to be part of the first group to welcome this historic date. For others, as has been the custom since December 31, 1907, they planned on being in New York City’s Times Square. Last but not least, for those who could afford it, there were a number of extravagant “millennium parties” boasting top name entertainment throughout the U.S. and Europe. Me? I watched the festivities from the convenience of my home with family members coming from as far away as California.
When December 1999 finally arrived, I didn’t give much thought to making any resolutions. The one I habitually made in previous years … to win the lottery … not surprisingly didn’t happen (and in case anyone is wondering … I still haven’t won). I did, however, make a resolution one hour before the stroke of midnight.My resolution: to learn something new.
They say that tradition dictates making a resolution every 365 days; it’s a wonderful way to make a fresh start for the New Year. While it’s too late to make one for Y2K, it’s not too late to think about making one for the year 2011. So grab a piece of paper and a pen, and find a quiet spot. When you write your resolution, remember that an overly ambitious one is doomed to failure from the start. So be realistic. Perhaps the best way to do this is to think of your resolution as a promise … to yourself. Why; because you’re less likely to break it. And take into account that even if you only partially complete it, you’ll still get a sense of accomplishment. It’s a win-win situation.
If you think about it, you don’t have to wait until the New Year to make changes in your life. They can be made at any time and for any reason. However, for me, the beginning of a new year seems as good a time as any. I guess it’s time I got started; in case you haven’t heard the impending dawn of a New Year is six weeks away.