On Sunday, night millions of Americans turned the page on 2023 by dropping all kinds of items from various locations.
Of course, thousands crammed into Midtown Manhattan to watch the iconic Times Square Ball drop — a Waterford crystal geodesic sphere lit with over 32 thousand LED lamps. It majestically descends on a specially designed pole while the crowd chants the last ten seconds of the year. The Times Square ball drop is appointment viewing for a worldwide televised audience and often for me. It’s been my New Year’s Eve ritual for the last few years as I’ve moved away from late-night partying to quiet reflection at home.
And what’s better than a ceremonial way to acknowledge leaving all the bad stuff in the old year? No doubt that’s why a lot of other communities have also taken up ritualized drops like New York City’s.
In my home state of Tennessee — in Nashville, known as Music City, they drop a red musical note. It’s a key at midnight in Frederick, Maryland, in tribute to famous resident Francis Scott Key who wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.
There are a lot of food drops: in another Manhattan — Manhattan, Kansas — they drop a red delicious apple paying homage to their “Little Apple” nicknamed; in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, home of Just Born, the company that makes the Peep candies, they drop a giant Peep.
In Plymouth, Wisconsin a, giant wedge of BellaVitano cheese; in Boise, a giant spud; and in Bartlesville, Oklahoma where people clearly like their cocktails, a “brightly lit “olive drips into a giant martini glass.
Then there’s a wrench in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and a pinecone in Flagstaff, Arizona. Clearly, there’s something satisfying about seeing stuff drop as we turn the page to the New Year.
It’s worth noting that in any other situations, dropping the ball is disastrous. The phrase itself is synonymous with messing up. But New Year’s Eve has turned dropping a fancy glass ball and a bunch of other items into a positive. A chance to leave the ugly, and hurtful behind. In the advice of one anonymous commentator — ” drop it, leave it, let it go.”
So here I am on the other side of the crystal ball, pine cone, and giant spud drops, taking in the proverbial clean slate of New Year’s Day. Even if I‘m not quite ready to greet the New Year, I love the possibility that a fresh start offers. I pledge to remember what this moment feels like, to take a moment to reflect on what last year meant, instead of rushing headlong into the New Year. That’s not a New Year’s resolution. I no longer believe in resolutions. But I do believe I can be more intentional about how I live during 2024.