When I was a kid, say from age 11 until about age 39, Rosh Hashanah was not one of my favorite holidays. There were a few reasons for this:
Summer was over and we were back to school.
The services were long if I went, and the day was guilt-ridden if I didn't.
Services were a fashion event, uncomfortable since I felt so unfashionable.
I had to think about what I had done wrong in the past year.
I felt like I was being judged.
As "irreligious" as I was, I was the most observant person in my family, which felt like an unfair burden. (It's not logical, but that's how it felt)
In the last few years, my thoughts on Rosh Hashanah have changed, dare I say "evolved"? For a quick tutorial, here is the Wikipedia version http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosh_Hashanah Perhaps interesting to non-Jews, and I must admit, I learned a few things myself.
Some nice things about Rosh Hashanah that I now like, enjoy and/or appreciate:
1. Coming at the end of the summer, it seems like a natural time for a "new" year to start.
2. Unlike secular New Year, it is not mushed in with the "holiday season". This is not a knock on Christmas, or the holiday season in general, I just like the idea of reviewing your personal year, and thinking about the New Year, separated from holiday hubbub, gifts, tipping, shopping and holiday intrigue.
3. I like the special greetings and positive feelings that people express.
4. Stopping and evaluating (better than "judging") where I've been and where I'm going seems very worthwhile. What if we didn't all do this at least once a year?
5. Any reason to get together with family and/or friends.....has to be good.
6. Nothing is quite like hearing the shofar being blown. Not only does it connect all the listeners with something that goes back to ancient times, but it connects the listeners together. There is nothing else like it.
7. At services on Rosh Hashanah (and on Yom Kippur), I sense that people are PRAYING more than "reciting". I realize that praying and participation in any service is personal and individual, I am simply noting that I enjoy the feeling of communal prayer more, when it feels truly communal.
8. The prayers seem to have more "fill in you own" personal issues, and I like that.
9. I like listening to good sermons, and Rabbi's are usually at their best on Rosh Hashanah.
10.These days, I'm OK doing what I do, how I do it, and it took me a long time to get to this point. I've probably spent some quality time on past Rosh Hashana's thinking about this.
L'Shanah Tovah to all.