Trying On a New Identity for a New Year


Granddaughter in mask, New Year's Eve, 2013.

Granddaughter in mask, New Year’s Eve, 2013.

Four grandchildren from one daughter were over to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us. Actually, they were over to be watched as their parents celebrated New Year’s Eve, but we had quite a party that wound down around 9 when we celebrated 2014 in whatever time zone is two hours east of the East Coast by going to bed.

Anyway, one of the activities of the eve was decorating, and wearing, foam rubber masks. The kids, who range in age from 5 to 2 (there is also a baby under age 1, but she didn’t do the mask thing), enjoyed decorating their own masks and then wearing them.

They also tied blankets around their necks and tore around the house, becoming characters in their own superhero dramas. Their main activity as superheroes, by the way, was to “get Ben,” which is, to run down the hall to Ben’s room, yell at him, and then run the other way down the hall.

Rescue Man tears down the hall.

Rescue Man tears down the hall.

The 2-year-old girl several times arrived at my side, breathless, put her hand on my knee (I was sitting on the floor to photograph the melee) and announced that she was “Rescue Man.” I suggested once that she was “Rescue Girl,” but received a severe reprimand and reminder that, no, she was “Rescue Man.”

As far as I know, no actual rescues were performed.

Anyway, the masks had a transformative effect. The kids thought that they became someone else, and they briefly acted the parts. At one point, the 5-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy announced that they were getting married and marched off together down the hallway, apparently intending to have Ben perform the ceremony. I hope it went well.

The donning of masks, I suppose, is a New Year’s Eve tradition. In addition to putting on new identities, it’s a time of year when we look ahead and decide what we would want to change in our own identities.

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, and I’m not great at setting effective life goals anyway (you know, ones that are attainable and measureable, etc.). But, how would I change my own identity? What do I hope to do or be in 2014 that I have not done or been before?

If you’re expecting a list, forget it. As I noted, resolutions aren’t my strength. Mostly, to be honest, I’m fairly comfortable in my own skin, so part of what I most would want to do would be to retain the best of what I’m already.

In this new year, I am planning to take piano lessons. This should improve my bell ringing, I hope. At my age, I don’t expect miracles, but I also think it’s healthy as you grow older to continue to try to learn and do new things—and I own a piano and I don’t play the piano, and piano lessons seem an obvious, concrete thing to do.

In this new year, I aspire to only plant native trees in the woods behind my house, and to give my poor, well forested, yard a break. No more trees in my yard. For a year. Unless one dies.

In this new year, I look forward to the blooms from fall bulbs planted in 2013. And while I plan to give the lawn a break from new trees, I said nothing about new flowers …

In this new year, I hope that my family, wife, children and grandchildren sense the unexpressed love that wells up in my heart for them. Perhaps I can find more ways to express it. I’m a guy, and not always comfortable with familial emotional expression, but to all my kin who are reading this, may you prosper, grow happier and feel more comfortable in the world in 2014.

OK, so I did a New Year’s list after all. Must have been the mask I was wearing.

Me and youngest of the four visitors, the one without a mask.

Me and youngest of the four visitors, the one without a mask.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Trying On a New Identity for a New Year

  1. Happy New Year, Dad. This bit: “I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, and I’m not great at setting effective life goals anyway (you know, ones that are attainable and measureable, etc.)”–I think we must be related or something because that’s definitely me, too. May 2014 bring you all sorts of happy! xx

    • CRGardenJoe

      Glad you made it safely to California! Hope the visit all goes well, and thanks (and right back at you) for the well wishes for 2014.

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