First Day

I’m not a late night sort of person, not really enchanted with the glitz and glitter of the evening. It’s dark. In the winter it is cold, usually very cold, at least by my standards. If you don’t have snow to cover all the dead branches, fallen leaves, brown grass and bare bushes, the world is not the most attractive sight. And. It’s hard to see.  So, not a First Night kind of girl.

Where did the feasting of New Year’s come from? My own unscientific and less than historical view is that it had a lot to do with the Georgian Calendar. Although I’ve never understood why the new year comes in the middle of the darkest of winter times. For me, Spring. March 1 should be New Year’s Day.

But the co-opting of non-Christian feasts into Christian feasts was probably one of the world’s first excellent marketing slash spin campaign. Ever. Bully! We take it as common fact that the holidays, especially the Christian ones, center around what we call pagan feasts. Spoiler Alert! Pagan: ORIGIN late Middle English: from Latin paganus ‘villager, rustic,’from pagus ‘country district.’Latin paganus also meant ‘civilian.”  The idea of a mystical birth in the middle of the death of winter, one that would bring renewal, was a powerful one, but for Catholics that is not the beginning of the year. For us it is the First Sunday in Advent, four Sundays before the Christ’s mass, Christmas, when we prepare, get ready. Await!  January first is when we celebrate the gift of Mary, the Mother of God.

Me? First Day should be like the most galactic, ginormous, perfect Monday. I’ve always LOVED Monday. Seriously! Each day at Villa Cabrini we lined up by class in the quad of the elementary section of campus. Mornings would be cool, refreshing, new. But on Monday, my baby blue uniform would be freshly ironed, the collars and cuffs bleach white, my Buster Brown’s polished. My plaid book bag hanging across my body would have my binder and sharpened pencils. In my lunch box the Thermos full of cold milk and a sandwich wrapped tightly in waxed-paper would sit alongside homemade chocolate chip cookies and an apple. Mother Superior would make the morning announcements and then the loudspeaker would blare a John Phillips Sousa march. Ah, that March King! He really knew his stuff. We would stand in place before marching in a drill you learned in kindergarten. March to the front. Turn back by ones, down by fours, back up by twos, down by twos and then each class peeled off to their respective rooms. By third grade you could do it in your sleep, but I never did. It was activity, movement, exciting. We were, for a bunch of grade school kids, precise, exacting, and perfect. It set the tone for the day. Do it right. There was no other option. Expectations! What a motivator. 

Resolutions don’t impress me, but assessments do.  Beginnings are tantalizing, wondrous, promising, and exciting. This is a new beginning. Just like Monday! Happy First Day!


1 Comment

  1. Gretchen Griffith

    Cheers to new beginnings! Your vivid description of Monday mornings at school amazes me, so different from my own experience. Thanks for the glimpse into another world.