Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Next Jan 1, we'll celebrate the true New Millennium
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   01/07/2000)

To steal a line from the immortal Yogi Berra, it's going to be "deja vu all over again" come Dec. 31, 2000. Mark my word.

Fireworks from the Eiffel Tower and Pyramids. Predictions of doom. Round the clock coverage of hula dances, drum circles, proclamations, and rock music. The Pope will say something sweet, as will every nation's leader.

Who can resist? Call it Global Village Party, Part II. It'll happen again, time zone by time zone, and here's why:

  • First of all, the millennial purists will keep making a fuss. Don't get mad at these folks when they tell you the new decade, new century, New Millennium doesn't actually start until the first tick after midnight following Dec. 31. The true demarcation is 2001, and the purists won't let us forget it, for one very good reason: They are right.

    Our calendar starts with the Year 1, AD. There was no Year Zero.

  • If I owe you $200, and pay you back in pennies, the debt isn't settled when I begin paying that last dollar, or even after I've paid $199.99. It's settled only after I've completed paying you that 200th dollar. Same with years. And it doesn't matter that ours isn't the only calendar, or that Christ possibly was born three to seven years earlier than thought, or that we gained a few extra ticks in the Middle Ages. What we're celebrating here is a date on a calendar, and most of us long ago settled on the calendar, anomalies and all. It's what we go by. It's like watching your car's odomoter click over. And when it does click over properly, the purists will be ready to party. Again, don't get mad at these folks. They serve a very useful function. They give us the excuse we need to do it again.

  • Second, the alarmists will be ready to alarm us all over again. There were lots of disappointed folk following this millennial celebration. Many would-be prophets predicted the end of time. People are sitting in their basements staring at generators, buckets of water, canned goods and platinum coins. What typically happens when the sky doesn't fall on schedule? The Chicken Littles of the world regroup and announce that wups! they made a mistake in their calculations, mis-read the signs from God, then they pick another date in the future, reiterate dire predictions, and make hay while the sun shines. The most obvious date for such prophets of doom to seize on is Jan. 1, 2001.

  • Third, despite predictions of doom, there'll be no "Y2K Bug" to worry about next time. Unlike the period leading up to this past New Millennium party, a sense of security will pervade the next one. People will fly to the Pyramids, drive to Times Square, and cruise to New Zealand to welcome in the True New Millennium. I drove to Nashville this year, to celebrate with family and friends, and I-40 was eerily empty. It won't be 51 weeks from now.

  • Fourth, watch how fast Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and "" become purists on this point. Accountants and executives will look back at the global party just passed and figure out ways to make the next one happen, so they can all cash in.

  • Fifth, those who did celebrate this time around mostly had a good time, if the party I went to was any indication. We will be ready to do it all again. I said years ago that I intended to celebrate the new millennium twice, because I didn't want to miss either party. Those of us who celebrated the new millennium this time around will be ready to do it again. Unlike the purists who wouldn't acknowledge the new millennium this year, we have nothing invested in our decision. You don't hear us arguing the technicalities of time measurement with Tommy the Trekkie or Uncle Elrod the Rocket Scientist. Rather, our attitude this go-round was basically, "Oh, it isn't really the new millennium yet? So what? Don't you enjoy a party?" Next year we'll be telling the purists, "Gosh, you were right. It really wasn't the new millennium. Guess we'll have to do it all over again."

    And so we will.