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Did you ever wonder why the symbol of New Year's is a kid wearing a diaper and a top hat and carrying a horn?

You don't have to run over me with a truck. I've already associated the diaper with change. But why the party hats and horns?To be honest, I haven't lost a lot of sleep over this, but you have to admit, it sends out some mixed messages. Do we all strip and go naked into the new year? What happens to the old guy digging around with a scythe with his bathrobe open? Why would I follow anyone into a new year who in 365 days ages 110 years? I'd just as soon march behind the Energizer batteries on TV who bang through people's lives like they have a passkey.

Maybe little New Year is supposed to exude innocence, freshness and optimism . . . like Bobby in the shower on "Dallas." He's born again to tackle another season, another year, another decade.

I looked at the symbol the other day and got a flash. Wouldn't it be reasonable that this urchin in a diaper is a reminder to shed some of the baggage of last year and go into the new one in our birthday suits?

Maybe we shouldn't have any pockets holding names of old adversaries to whom we are not speaking - and can't even remember why. No hair shirts of self-pity that we've worn for too many years without cleansing. No glasses that allow us to see all of our differences but none of our likenesses. No designer accessories such as self-inflicted pain and guilt and out-of-control ambition and perfection.

Maybe we shouldn't have any shoes that have walked in the same ruts of old ideas and stubborn resistance to change for too many years. No luggage to kick along holding years of yellowed hatred and crumbling prejudices toward people no longer alive. No neckties or scarves to choke out laughter, joy and words of forgiveness.

Maybe we should be like a baby who has just entered the world ready to celebrate life on its terms. Maybe this child does represent a newness, yet another chance to grow, to develop, to learn anew. Maybe we all need a new wardrobe: short enough to be interesting, yet long enough to cover the subject.

I ran this theory by my husband the other day. He said, "Hey, New Year's is just another day when all the horses are a year older. It's no big deal."

Maybe. Actually, it would account for the top hat and the noisemaker.