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Happy New Year!

December 31, 2008 - John Mehno

Jan. 2 update: Have to admit that 31-7 at halftime chased me away from the Rose Bowl. As things fell apart, I half expected to see Joe reading the paper or watching another game on TV when ABC took those shots of him in the booth. Sour end to a sweet season for State fans.


Jan. 1 update: Pitt's performance in the Sun Bowl? What did they do in those four weeks they had to prepare? Atrocious doesn't begin to describe it. Dave Wannstedt has some explaining to do for that stinkbomb.


I wish you all the best for 2009, and hope you're safe in your celebration.

The new year will arrive with no help from me. I am an avowed New Year's holiday hater, and have been for a long as I can remember. It started when I was a kid. If you're a kid, there is no payoff for you on Dec. 31. The party is for adults (who act like kids) but nothing really changes. No, 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 looks a lot like 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1.

In my house, New Year's Day was when Christmas ended. The tree came down, the decorations were packed away, the gifts were put in their proper places. Within two hours, a CSI team would be unable to detect the house had once been awash in bright and cheery Christmas decor. There were no NFL playoffs to anticipate. In those days, the NFL championship game (the equivalent of the Super Bowl) was played in late December. So it was a long time until baseball rolled around.

Worse, Jan. 2 was the traditional back to school day. There was always some sort of long-range assignment that had gotten away from me over Christmas break, which heightened the sense of dread that came with returning to the classroom. The outlook was bleak. Unless there was a snow day (rare in that era), there was no major break from school until Easter weekend.

My dislike of the holiday was probably cemented forever in 1972. I figured the Steelers were going to the Super Bowl, but they were defeated at home by the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship game. The next morning I woke to the news that Roberto Clemente had been killed in a plane crash. It's 36 years later, and I still remember that morning in detail.

I've tried every approach with New Year's: Celebrate with one person, celebrate in a group, work through it, sleep through it, ignore it. I was even in Times Square one year, with a lot of crazy people. Nothing seems to make it any better. So midnight will pass quietly as I give thanks for another year on the planet and hope for the best in the coming year.

New Year's Day, I'll watch the Rose Bowl because (1.) It's Penn State and USC and (2.) It's the granddaddy of them all. I doubt I'll pay much attention to the other games, except for Pitt's appearance in the Sun Bowl. I have a Penguins game on Saturday afternoon, then a nice full run of NFL playoff games Saturday night and Sunday.

The tree will come down on Monday, but there will be a small, subtle reminder of Christmas in every room, just so I can ease out of the season and keep the spirit all year long.

The one good thing: I don't have to go school on Monday.

Happy New Year.

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