It’s New Year’s Eve. What, Me Worry?

by Kerry Dougherty

When I was a kid, my mother said I worried too much.

“Consider the lilies of the field,” she’d say, taking a drag on a Pall Mall before paraphrasing Scripture. “They neither toil nor spin, yet the Bible says God gives them beautiful blossoms.”

“So cut it out, and just relax,” she’d say, as she stubbed out a cigarette and began to gnaw on her cuticles.

Anxiety came naturally to me. It was in my DNA. Like my parents, I worried about everything. I stayed awake at night fretting about communism, nuclear war and what I could do to make the popular girls like me.

I still worry. About big things and small ones. Instead of communism I worry about socialism, AOC-style. I also worry about my kids. My granddaughter. And whether my Welsh Terrier will ever stop biting us.

And, this being the eve of a New Year, I’m a little worried about how I’ll remember that we are now living in the year 2022.

Truth is, I never did become accustomed to 2021. As recently as last week, I had to stop and think about where we were in the 21st century. I was positive it was 2017.

Naturally, I worried that this forgetfulness was a sign of dementia. You know, one day you think it’s still 1999, the next day you’re standing in the street trying to remember which house is yours. After that, it isn’t long before your loved ones take you for a little drive in the country and drop you off at a “retirement” home.

Then it hit me. I am not losing my mind. It’s easy to lose track of the year when our main cue for remembering it disappears.

I’m talking about the lost art of check-writing.

Think about it. Until a few years ago, we all spent January reminding ourselves to write the new year on our checks. We performed this exercise over and over until we just knew. We wrote checks for the electric bill, the gas bill, the mortgage and the car insurance. Checks for the doctor, the dry cleaner, the drugstore. Checks, checks and more checks.

The ones inked in early January inevitably featured a crossed-out date with little initials beside it. But by February, we’d happily adjusted.

No more.

Shoot, my kids don’t even have checkbooks. And frankly, I rarely need one.

Electronic bill paying and debit cards mean many of us no longer write paper checks. Certainly not as many as we did when every trip to the supermarket required that we whip out our checkbooks. In most respects, this is a good thing. Letter carriers don’t rupture their discs delivering big, fat bank statements with envelopes bulging with cancelled checks. And we don’t have to wait in tedious lines while shoppers pen $3 checks for cornflakes. (Sometimes we do and it gets on my last nerve.)

The downside is, we rarely write the date anymore. So, we’re more likely to get lost in time.

With or without checks, the years when something truly wonderful or terrible happened — births, deaths, marriages, catastrophes — are seared into our memory. The others? Not so much.

So here’s my wish for 2022: I hope this year will be memorable for all the good things that happen. I hope this is the year the fever breaks.

A year when our worries — about Covid and creeping socialism — turn out to be for nothing.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


3 responses to “It’s New Year’s Eve. What, Me Worry?”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Interesting observations. I am one of the Neanderthals who still pay my bills by check. There are two reasons for doing it this way. First, I still don’t trust on-line banking. There are too many stories out there about banks being hacked. (Of course, I do have direct deposit for my retirement checks, so maybe that defeats my purpose.) Second, I feel like I have a better handle on how I spend my money if I pay the bills by check. Of course, I tend to defeat that purpose, too, because all my everyday purchases, grocery store, care repairs, etc., go on the credit card, to be paid off monthly.

    Whatever the reason I still use checks, I do get a periodic reminder of what year I am in .

  2. VaNavVet Avatar

    Seems pretty clear that Covid will be a bigger worry than creeping socialism and BTW writing checks is still good for a person in many ways.

    1. John Harvie Avatar
      John Harvie

      Sort of off topic but check writing reminds me what an insidious thing IRS withholding is. If we had to sit down and pen a check before March 15th (yes, it used to be March) how we’d feel about our govmint. Betcha taxes would be lower.

Leave a Reply