Clair McFarland: Wyoming Should Move New Year's Day To February

Clair McFarland writes: "If the sage grouse sees his shadow, we’ll stop all development to save his species. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we’ll hunt him and eat him. It’s a complete toss-up." 

Clair McFarland

January 27, 20244 min read

Clair and the cat
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming should start celebrating New Year’s Day on Feb. 2.  

Like wards of a 1950s insane asylum, we’ll step dazed into the sunlight on that date, wondering if the world is crazier than we are after the long winter.  

And if the sage grouse sees his shadow, we’ll stop all development to save his species. If he doesn’t see his shadow, we’ll hunt him and eat him. It’s a complete toss-up.  

I don’t take the offer to move New Year’s Day lightly. It’s my favorite holiday – a sacred day of repentance and regeneration. I like to run outside and let the bright cold scour away (hopefully) all my vestigial idiocy as I forge ahead in faith and goodwill.  

Then this month happened.  

I went for a run Jan. 1 and for no reason my heel quit working, as if someone had shot it. Just out of nowhere.  

“Someone’s got a voodoo doll,” I said.  

“No, Clair,” said The Husband. “Nobody has a voodoo doll of you.”  

My heel did not work for 10 days. For 10 days, I walked on tiptoe. Like a Barbie, or a political prisoner, or both.  

When the pain eased and I realized I could walk like a normal person again, I was thrilled.  

Now the new year can start, I told myself. Now I can go outside and think big thoughts and shed small worries.  

But then my middleborn son got a fever – the worst ever. I kept a fire roaring in the woodstove and coddled my pale boy as he moaned and pleaded for mercy from the traitors in his blood.  

Next the big, sweet twin got the same fever. Then the little, feisty twin. They fell like dominoes around me, and all I could do was make homemade broth and disinfect things.  

Last week, The Husband and I both got the fever. It raged on and off for days.  

I glowered like Emperor Palpatine under three of The Husband’s hooded sweatshirts, warbling out ominous monologues about the universe breeding hatred.  

Then I wept from the pain, and I slunk off to my bed to die.  

“It’s OK if I don’t wake up,” I told my pillow as I surrendered to it.  

And what a surrender! For about five hours of a fevered nap there was no news. No social media. No requests from my boys. Nothing to clean, nothing to cook, no one to call, no emails to answer.  

I couldn’t earn my keep or anyone’s approval. I was useless — reduced to a thread of faith in a black, oblivious void of being.  

It was kind of nice.  

I woke to find myself alive. My hearing is weaker, my voice is gone. I have this burning down my spine and in my hips, buried deep in my bones.  

“That’s called joint pain,” said The Husband, who is a bit older than I am.  

I gaped at him in horror.  

“Do you mean – “ 

“Yeah,” he said. “Like arthritis.” 

“I’m arthritic?”  

He patted my head. “You’ve just got a little bit of joint pain. It’s perfectly normal. Mine usually flares up in the morning, before my eyes focus for the day – “ 

“But I don’t wanna be arthritic,” I whined.  

“Here,” said The Husband, “have an Advil.”  

I did not take an Advil. I threw open all the curtains and played some punk rock – to show the arthritis who’s boss.

Into the windows flooded the periwinkle optimism of a January thaw. The bare gravel driveway grinned, its snowy banks parting like chapped lips.  

I focused on listening, hoping my hearing would return to normal.  

I could almost hear the world relax, with a crackle and a sigh. Actually nope, that was my arthritic spine.  

I looked over at The Husband, then at all our sons emerging from their forced hibernation of sickness and pain. They had dark rings under their eyes, but I knew they were well because they were jostling and elbowing each other.  

I smiled. “Happy New Year, boys.”  

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter