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Predictions: A Fun New Year’s Game December 27, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I like to make a huge fuss at Christmas, but our New Year’s celebration is pretty low-key. No parties, no drunkenness, no staying up ’til midnight and watching whatever-it-is on TV. But of course, we do have our traditions. I’d like to share one of our favorites with you all. It’s fun, and it’s free. You can’t beat that!

Over the years, we’ve developed a kind of eccentric New Year’s ritual. Every year, a group of friends comes from far and wide to our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, located in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. Now, most of you know that I love to cook, but for New Year’s Eve, we have a tradition of getting takeout Chinese food, which we all love and pretty much never get, given our rural location. OFB and I can’t even remember how this “Chinese New Year” concept got started, but given the whole fortune-cookie thing, it’s pretty appropriate.

That’s because, after dinner, we make predictions. We appoint a scribe from the group to take down everyone’s comments and attribute them to the right person. After giving him or her a pen and pad of paper, we get down to the serious business of seeing into the future, or at least the future of the coming year. We divide our predictions into categories: politics, fashion, food trends, religion, inventions, world events, science, medicine, personalities, and so on. We also speculate about what will happen for family members, friends, and, of course, each other.  (Our friend Ben invariably predicts that he’ll be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, but so far, so wrong.)

This is a lot of fun, and a lot of good-natured ribbing goes on as we each stick our necks out with our predictions. Anything goes, no matter how far-fetched or ludicrous, and it’s all duly written down and attributed. If you want to predict that Martians will send a diplomatic delegation to Earth in 2009, or that outraged Plutons will destroy our planet in revenge for their own home world’s having been demoted from planet status, well and good. If you choose to take the high road, and predict that a cure for cancer will be found in the Amazon rainforests, or that an ecological Messiah will arise to save our planet from devastation, go for it. If your thoughts are turned more towards predicting what will happen with Brangelina or Oprah, or suggesting a new reality TV show that will take the viewing public by storm, speak up. All’s fair in our New Year’s Predictions, even if you want to speculate about your sister-in-law’s latest romance or what kind of dog the Obamas will get or whether Paula Abdul is really going to leave “American Idol.”

But the fun is just beginning. The real fun starts when the previous year’s predictions are unveiled and read aloud to the group. Hopefully you, like us, will have convened the same group of predictors the following year, so everyone can see who successfully predicted the stock market drop and who (unfortunately) announced that this was the year that Camilla would leave Prince Charles, have a sex-change operation, and take up with Osama Bin Laden, or that Posh would elope with former President Clinton and Becks would move in with Padma Lakshmi.

I don’t know which is funnier, the ludicrous predictions that didn’t happen, or the rare and amazing incidents when somebody actually got it right. (I have to admit that OFB is the one who usually racks these up, and then, of course, becomes even more insufferable than usual. But more often than not, we’re all wrong, and our predictions are funnier and/or more plausible than what actually happened.) But I can say that a good time is had by all, and much laughter is shared along with the occasional genuine insight.

Laughter is healing, and what better time to share laughter, cameraderie, and good times than on the verge of a new year? Not to mention that you’ll be stunned by just how smart and insightful your friends and family really are. I urge you to adopt this tradition this New Year!

         ‘Til next time,