ArticlesJanice Crow

Janice Crow: ” New Year Smell”

January 2024

New Year Smell – 2024

I know you’re all too young to remember this…alas, me not… but years ago when the new car models were about to be revealed, car dealerships would often paper over the windows of the showroom.  They would literally be blacked out so that no one could see, until the appointed time, the new 1959 Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Chrysler, etc.

Men and women alike would gather around outside the dealership on the day of the reveal hoping to be among the first to catch a glimpse of the new model year.   What will it look like?  What feat of creative genius will the designers have come up with?  Will it be sleek and aerodynamic?  Will the tail lights be stacked in the tail fins or mounted horizontally?  Will it have lots of glistening chrome?    Will there be a classic hood ornament?  Leather or cloth upholstery?  Will it be luxurious or simply utilitarian?  What power had been engineered in…or out?  There was no sneaking a peek.  You simply had to wait.

Whatever the look, there was always hope that a smooth, carefree, comfortable ride lay in store…of course, with lots of horsepower under the hood for good measure.  Promise and possibility.  That’s what the new model years held.  And when they were finally revealed, Dad would either praise the improvements or lament the deficiencies.  Not that it really mattered.  He wasn’t going to buy one anyway.  His new car history was 1954, 1970, and 1985 and all three were Oldsmobiles.  Dad knew what he liked and he stuck with it.

He used to talk about that “new car smell”.  Ahhhh, nothing like it. It was a man’s world and that car was all his…and the finance company’s.  So clean, so fresh, so cheery.  Of course, KEEPING  “new car smell” was a challenge.  A road trip with the family to see the inlaws in the days before fast food joints meant making sandwiches and eating picnic-style in that brand-new car.  A “baloney” and cheese sandwich or Dad’s braunschweiger (or brown swogger as he called it) with a little horseradish did little to enhance the scent.  Then invariably somebody would spill the single bottle of RC Cola we passed around for all to take a swig of like The Darlings passing the jug on Andy Griffith.  (Can you say backwash?   I could no more do that today than put an ice pick through my earlobe. )   Then, of course, let one of us kids happen to cross the path where the Hampsey’s dog took his constitutional promenade and then track it into the car or,  God forbid, one of us get sick on the cloth upholstery and that new car smell would be just a fond memory…a footnote in the annals of new car-dom.

Suddenly, that glowing 1954 emerald green tribute to man’s innovative genius,  that monument to steel, chrome, and glass, that pinnacle of success that working men aspire to… somehow didn’t seem as bright,  as shiny as it had before.  Yes, it was still a means to take us somewhere, just tarnished.  The thrill was gone.

On December 31st we all pressed our noses to the window of life and cupped our hands around expectant eyes and strained to see if we could catch a glimpse of what 2024 would look like.  It must be full of promise and possibility, yet it’s shrouded in mystery.  What will it bring?  What will it look like?  Will it be a beautiful smooth ride or the same old thing in a different package?

Unlike the paper that was suddenly ripped from the dealership windows to reveal a new car in the old days, our year will be revealed to us one tiny shred at a time…day by day.  Oh, I do hope it’s beautiful for all of us!  We all hope for the best.  But, unfortunately,  it is absolutely certain that at some point, maybe sooner rather than later,  something will happen to dampen our enthusiasm.  It’s a little thing called life.

It’s probably more to the point to just say it this way:  Yes…there will be accidents.  There will be mistakes…sometimes whoppers.  There may be major setbacks and disappointments.  Somebody is gonna get sick.  And, brother, you may even “step in it”.  Something this year is just gonna stink.  That’s all there is to it.

But, see, as Christians we have a guarantee that the old time BIg Three car manufacturers never issued.   Don’t expect GM to show up and do anything about that rust on your bumper.  You’re on your own.   But God promised that He would restore.  Joel 2:25 tells us so.  God will restore the years that the locust has eaten.  Okay, so maybe you’re not bothered with locusts these days.  I’m not a farmer either.  But I’ve sure had some crop failures. I’ve had some things eat through my joy like rust through a ’37 Chevy. Some things in life just need restoring.  Hope.  Joy.  Determination to go on.  And God is a God of restoration, of fresh new mercies.  He delights in making old things new,  in strengthening the weak, in bringing His sweet aroma back into a life musty with the stale smell of failure and regret.    That amazes me.

So, as we face this new year,  I’m praying that through it all….through the new, through the same old same old…through the heartaches or simply through the difficult,  that we can all keep the joy of the Lord even when 2024 just doesn’t have that “New Year Smell” anymore.

Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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