Why I hate New Year's
I hate the New Year’s holiday. Always have. Well, not always. When I was a kid, it was the one day in the year when I got to stay up until midnight. I’d eat potato chips with onion dip and watch the stupid ball come down, usually with a babysitter because my parents were usually at a New Year’s party. I envisioned an elegant, fun filled evening of romance – an illusion I kept of New Year’s parties until I hit dating age and the pressure of having a special someone for the holidays – which I rarely did until I met my husband in my late 20s.
Now, much older and happily married, I still dislike New Year's. As someone who tends to be a bit on the depressive side, I just get worse around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. So, at this time of year, with everyone making lists, time to make my list – of ten things I most loathe about this holiday.
1. Television news listing the most significant events of the past year. I know that journalists, like the rest of us, want to take the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, but this is just lazy. And, yeah, yeah, I know all the shit that happened last year, from the January 6 attack on our democracy to the surge of covid when we thought we were out of this but we weren't. I don’t need to be informed that these were significant events. I’m already aware. Which leads me to:
2. The annual listing of the people who died in the calendar year. Can you spell d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-n-g? Or morbid? They died. I’m sad. And apart from all the celebrities who died, we lost a load of people to Covid, most of whom will go unheralded - but were very special to their kids, their spouse, their parents. The years I lost my parents - listening to the sad droning over famous people who had passed just made me sadder.
3. On a lighter note – New Year’s hats. They’re stupid looking. Enough said.
4. Restaurant dining on New Year’s Eve. I first wrote this in prepandemic times, when people still went out to restaurants. I haven't been to a restaurant - except to put on two masks, run in and pick up carryout - since last summer when we had the brief illusion that Covid might be over. But even for those souls who do go out to restaurants or who want to wax nostalgic over going out to restaurants in the past, going out on New Years Eve sucks. So, maybe you give in to the idea that you should do something to welcome the fact that you’ll be writing the wrong year on your checks – if you still use checks – for about a month and decide to go out to your favorite restaurant for your favorite meal. Only your favorite restaurant isn’t serving your favorite meal. It’s serving a $200 per person New Year’s Eve special. With Champagne – which is supposed to make up for the fact that your meal is $300 more than you wanted to pay. And you have to drink Champagne –which leads me to...
5. Champagne. It’s expensive. It’s festive. We’re supposed to love it. I don’t. As generally served, it’s a sweet fizzy drink. If I want a drink, I’ll take Scotch. Glen Livet is very festive. If I want sweet, I’ll have a milkshake. But we’re supposed to drink Champagne, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Kind of circular, but there you are.
6. The forced gaiety. Again, for me in these covid times, not so much my problem - but in non-covid times, people feel like they should be going to parties to welcome the New Year. And the parties are miserable. The music is ear-shatteringly loud, and people who don’t know how to dance are bumping and grinding into each other. You’re supposed to be dancing along with them, with a brief period of kissing everyone within reach when the clock ticks down to the new year, even though you just want to flee for fresh air. Then there’s the forced gaiety of the people you see crowded into Times Square waiting for the stupid ball to come down as it does every year. Those smiles you see on the faces of people in the crowd on television – they’re either too drunk and stoned to know what’s happening or they figure this will be the last image their loved ones have of them. Hence the grins to fool the families into thinking their last moments were good ones.
7. People shooting guns or fireworks at midnight. Usually happens just after I’ve fallen into a deep sleep, having resisted the social pressure to stay up past my usual bedtime. Scares the dogs. Scares me, especially when idiots fire actual bullets into the sky, and yes, people sometimes do fire actual rounds into sky. Don’t people realize that what goes up….
8. New Year’s resolutions. No, I don’t make them. Why set myself up for almost certain failure once a year? I do that all the time. Don’t need to make a big thing about it.
9. The darkness after the holiday. After New Year’s Day, all the decorations come down. The decorated trees, the strings of lights, even the scary Christmas balloons, they all disappear until next year. It’s the lights, bright colors or even just strings of white lights shining in the dark, that I especially miss. They disappear, and we’re left with the coldest, darkest, and most depressing month of the year. January just goes on and on until it turns into February, the second most depressing month of the year. We could use some festive lights, at least until Valentine’s Day. And some more presents. Make every Friday in January a day to give one present to someone you love. Only not chocolate – I’ll still be fat from not having made a New Year’s resolution to lose the holiday weight. Books make really good January presents.
10. Finally, let’s get to the essence of the holiday. New Year’s marks just how quickly time goes by and how fleeting our lives really are. This may in fact be the core of my whole shtick about New Year’s – because the holiday just underscores what I already know – “what heart heard of, ghost guessed: it is the blight that man was born for….” We are mortal. Time is short. Yada yada. All the hats and the drinking and the fireworks and the forced gaiety are just trying to conceal that truly terrifying fact. In these Covid times, New Year's marks just how long we've been struggling with this pandemic, and that in 2020, we really thought we had it bear and things would be great.
So, yay, another year gone. Take a deep breath and plunge. May the coming year be, well, at slightly better than the last two.