As the sun neared the western horizon, the July day began to cool. A hot, tormenting breeze that began around noon changed from feeling as if from a hot furnace, to the slightly damp, cool draft as if from an open refrigerator door. Usually, I liked to spend summer days visiting and playing with my neighborhood cousins, but today the heat had made me feel sleepy and uninterested in doing anything.
Golden evening sunshine slanted through a stand of trees west of the house making long shadows stretching from one end of the lawn to the other. Under my bare feet, the shaded grass felt cool and slightly damp. From the barn my cousins and I heard a calf bellow and the mother’s calm, answering low. Daddy’s half-filled haymows, warm from the heat of the day, seemed to breathe the sweet smell of freshly dried hay into the yard. The clank of pots and pans from the house meant someone was in the kitchen washing supper dishes.
Reinvigorated by the temperature change, three of my cousins, Barb, Donna, Alice and I gathered in the back yard. One of us suggested, “Let’s play ‘freeze tag’. Everyone nodded enthusiastically.
In ‘freeze tag’, one person is chosen to be ‘IT’ and the rest of the players run from that person. If ‘IT’ tags you, you are to stop and ‘freeze’ in whatever strange running position you are in. You can only begin moving again when another regular player touches you. If you are caught moving without the help of another player, you instantly become the new ‘IT’.
As the eldest of our group, Barb volunteered to be ‘IT’ to start the game off. The minute she made the offer, the rest of us scattered in all directions. Barb was tall and had long legs, so she ran faster than the rest of us. We ducked, leaped sideways and tried to disappear into the branches of a cedar growing near the farmhouse.
I got tagged as I attempted to dodge away from Barb’s long reach. Holding the strange, half crouched position I had been in was uncomfortable, but while Barb dashed off after Alice, Donna ran past and touched me. We screamed and laughed, thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
The tag Alice received was not a light touch. It was delivered with enthusiasm. To stay upright, Alice had to take several stumbling steps. Barb shouted, “You moved. You’re ‘IT’!”
Alice roared back, “No, I’m not ‘IT’! You pushed me! I was trying not to fall.”
We all began to shout. Donna maintained that, “A move is a move.”
I was loudly of the opinion that, “We have the right to stay on our feet to play the game.”
Barb tried to make us all stop shouting, but no one was listening to her. Finally, Alice yelled, “Do over!”
Silenced, we stood facing each other, knowing that we were deadlocked and that all we could do was regroup, forget what had just happened and start the game over. Donna volunteered, “I’ll start this game off by being ‘IT’.
In the game of life, months and years troupe past in rhythmic cycles. We experience spring, summer, fall and winter year after year. First, the days are long and warm, then short and cold. Sometimes we don’t like how the game is going and want to change things. New Year’s Day marks the separation of the number of cycles we are given. This provides for us a perfect time and wonderful opportunity to pause the game to change direction with the plea, “Do Over!”
Many people use New Year’s Day resolutions to regroup, forget what has happened in the previous twelve months and restart the game of life afresh. Being able to call a “Do Over” gives everyone hope.
What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? How do you plan to follow though?