Hello January 2011!
Many observant Jews don't really "celebrate" the coming of the new calendar year, because hey, we've got 4 of our own. (4 you say? Really? Yes, really. Read more about that here.) For me, the new calendar year always brings with it a freshness, a feeling of renewal, similar to one I feel the morning after Rosh Hashana (and after Yom Kippur, and the day after my birthday...), so I actually welcome the new year and always do something to mark the occasion.
While it's true that we should live each day like it's our last, and to take advantage of the new opportunities that each day brings us, it's really hard to make that practical. Because each day, when it's Monday June 17th or Thursday April 4th or Tuesday January 23rd, I've got bills to pay, lunches to pack, laundry to do, a car to get inspected, a project deadline looming, and a present I need to buy for someone who just had a baby/birthday/wedding, oh, and we just ran out of milk/bread/eggs/cereal all at the same time (magically, this happens more often than it should in my house). You know, there's stuff to do, I'm busy, and I don't really have time to reflect on living fully each day. But new years come around, and that's my landmark to wake up, look around, and re-assess my life. So I take advantage of the new calendar year, excited that I have NO IDEA what lies ahead of me in the coming year (a new baby? a new car? a trip to Israel? a new job opportunity? a new laundry hamper for the bedroom?) but confident that, regardless, I have the resources and the support to face my challenges (although a new laundry hamper would be a welcome addition and not a challenge. Just to be clear).
It's an exciting time and it's so full of possibilities! Grab every opportunity you can to be grateful for what you have, set new goals for yourself, commit to learning something new, try harder, eat more fruits and veggies, and while this list sounds like another one of those "pie-in-the-sky" resolution lists that everyone makes this time of year, make it REAL. Set concrete goals, like try one new soup recipe. Try one new class. Read more Jewish articles online. Do one more thing on your path towards greater observance/learning. Do something crazy like crocheting or cooking or gardening. Make your challenges fun.
And to that - l'chaim and wishing all you only the very best in 2011!!