A wide choice of options for the new year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 29, 2007

Observing New Year’s Day is a strange and evolving celebration.

The popular, revisionist recollection is attending a party that starts with a frenzy on Dec. 31 to wash away the old year and welcome the new. The parties used to be glamorized as over-the-top cabarets that lasted well into the morning hours of New Year’s Day, to be followed by a slow-starting, long-lasting Jan. 1.

Times change. The parties have been scaled back as a reflection of this nation’s magnetic shift in its moral compass.

Some of us celebrate via television when a lighted ball drops from a pulley system in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, a place that only a few years ago was littered with so many pickpockets they were almost accepted as part of the landscape, like the city’s pigeons.

We will probably try to sing “Auld Lang Syne,” although only a few know what it means.

But 2008 offers some challenges for all of us. What will happen in this new year? Will the Navy pick a location for its outlying airfield? Gov. Tim Kaine is about to grapple with the General Assembly over his proposed budget, the truly first budget of his one-term lease in Richmond. What gets funded? What doesn’t? If history is any judge, the fight will last every day of the session, then spill into days and weeks following.

What becomes of the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority? The abusive driver’s fees?

We elect a president later this year.

What will happen to us on April

16, the year’s anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech? How will we react 365 days later (actually, 366 days later; February has 29 days this year)?

Still, we’ll make optimistic resolutions and even keep a few of them.

As we pull the 2007 calendars off the wall in favor of the unmarked 2008 version, it is a symbolic gesture. The pages of the new year are unencumbered, open to ambitious goals.

Now that’s worth celebrating.