Is it really 2014? No, that can’t be right. It seems like it was only yesterday that it was 1985. Or was it 1965? On second thought, I’ll stop there as I’m embarrassed to be able to go back even further.
Anyway, each year’s new number takes a while to get used to.
The cynical among us will probably say that it will be another year filled with the same old annoying, egomaniacal sleaze-bag politicians, narcissistic “celebrities,” and assorted liars, criminals and fraudsters. Such people will once again waste our mental energy as we try to figure out if anything they say or do is worthy of our interest.
The more optimistic among us will see a year of opportunity ahead. A time for self-improvement, more efforts toward international peace, political co-operation, economic recovery and a better life for those less fortunate.
Gee, I sound like a beauty-queen candidate who was just asked to explain her “vision.”
What will the New Year bring?
Will we learn anything from past mistakes?
Will we collectively make 2014 a banner year for 'better days' ahead?
Will pigs fly?
And most important of all, will your New Year's resolutions bite the dust before February rears its ugly head?
While you’re pondering these weighty issues, take a mental break and join me in a look back at a few significant days from Januarys past.
• January 6, 1966 — Talk about “not knowing what to wear.” Consider this dramatic temperature change in Pincher Creek, Alberta. At 7 a.m., it was -24°C. At 8 a.m., it was suddenly 0°C. And then at 9 a.m., the temperature was back in the range of -22°C. It remained there until about 3 p.m., when it amazingly rose to about +2°C for the rest of a most unusual winter day.
• January 10, 1976 — The powerful Soviet Central Red Army team was finally defeated by an NHL team as the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers won a decisive 4-1 decision. Previously, Montreal, Boston and the New York Rangers had failed to beat the Soviets, but the Flyers prevailed with their determined and skillful play.
• January 18, 1958 — Willie O’Ree became the first black player in the NHL.
Five years later in the same month, two-year-old Wayne Gretzky started skating on the Nith River near his grandparents’ farm in Brantford, Ontario. Shortly afterward, he started playing hockey on the rink his father built for him in his own backyard. And yes, the rest became hockey history.
• January 22, 1959 — Singer Buddy Holly made his last recordings in his New York apartment. These were simpler days when not everyone could record in a fancy studio with talented musical movers and shakers. Among the tunes that Holly recorded that day were Peggy Sue Got Married and Learning the Game. He recorded that day on the same Ampex tape recorder that he'd used for his huge hits, That’ll be the Day and Peggy Sue.
Sadly, Buddy Holly died in an airplane crash a month later, producing another moment in history that many of us will never forget — when we heard that Holly had suddenly and tragically died along with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.
• January 25 — St. Paul’s Day. According to an old belief, if the sun shines on this day, it means a good year.
This is also Robbie Burns Day in honour of the famous Scottish poet who was born in 1759. Many a Scot will quaff a beaker or two in his honour while enjoying the traditional special dinner featuring a delicacy called “haggis.” Perhaps the description, “delicacy,” can be fairly questioned when you find out that haggis consists of a mixture of liver, heart and other entrails boiled up in a sheep’s stomach. However, this dish was considered a treat for poor Scots of Burns’ day and the poet even wrote an Address to the Haggis, which is always read at each Robbie Burns Day supper.
• January 28, 1807 — London’s Pall Mall became the first street in the world to be illuminated with gaslight.