By the time you read this, you will have less than 8 hours of 2007 remaining (unless you happen to be reading it from some island out in the middle of the Pacific, in which case you’re just complicating things.) If there was anything that you swore you would do this year but haven’t gotten around to yet, now would probably be a good time to start panicking. In spite of what some of the stuff in your inbox might claim, about the only way you’re going to be guaranteed to lose fifty pounds that quickly is to go log onto a UK-based Internet gambling site. There’s always next year though, right?
As the year comes to an end, it seems that there’s always one thing or another left to do before making the big jump into the next year. In some cases, it might be getting an early start on whatever resolution you are making for next year. It might also be some task that you probably could have gotten done easily back in September, but have put off until it becomes a crisis. It could also just be something that you always do to close out the year. Dealing with your taxes is one such task, although that generally doesn’t come until a bit later on. In my case, one of the standard end-of-the-year tasks involves counting out the pocket change that I’ve accumulated over the course of the year. I keep all of it in a plastic container left over from my brief and disastrous foray into Beanie Baby collecting many years ago (it’s a long story, and I’m not telling it to anyone but my Shrink,) and count it out at the end of the year. You’d actually be surprised just how much of the stuff you can manage to accumulate (although some people are a bit more successful at this than others.)
What exactly you can do with the change once you’ve got it is a bit of an issue. Banks tend to put restrictions on how much of it they will accept at a time, and the coin counting machines that have become a common feature in supermarkets add an 8-cent per dollar fee on top. Generally I will roll up the quarters (which are usually a majority of the contents) and deposit those in the bank, and put the rest into the coin counter, which can turn it into an Amazon.com gift certificate without adding the counting fee to it. For a number of years I have done this by hand, but last year I got one of those fancy counting machines you see pop up in the stores as a “great gift idea” (yeah, right) around this time of year, and found that I just ended up counting the things by hand anyway just to make sure the machine wasn’t messing me up. It’s a bit of a time-consuming task, but a subtle, nagging sense of avarice helps greatly in ensuring that the task gets completed in a timely fashion.
Elsewhere, the end of the year provides a convenient opportunity for journalists everywhere to break out the time-honored slow news day gimmick of the Year in Review column. This allows them to take the stories they ran into the ground months ago and dig them back up for just long enough to run them right back into the ground again. If that doesn’t provide enough material, there’s always the option of “presenting” a number of completely meaningless and arbitrary “awards” as well. If you’re really hard up for material, you might even be able to finagle another entire column out of that gimmick. I’ll go ahead and get things started with the award for Most Politically Correct Toy of the Year…