#35: The Problem With New Year’s Eve

#35: The Problem With New Year’s Eve

If you think about it, Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday. Who doesn’t enjoy gathering around a table with family and friends and listing things for which you are thankful? Turkey, dressing, and the all important cranberry sauce (canned but whole berry, I accept no substitutes). Special Starbucks drinks (Pumpkin Spice Latté in the house!). And let’s not forget, that little thing with the Pilgrims/Puritans/Colonists, and/or American Indians, and (much, much later) Presidents proudly pardoning turkeys.

And then there is Christmas, with its decorated trees, carol singing, special Starbucks drinks (Peppermint Mocha in the house!) and colorful decorations and lights. Competition level shopping for perfect, perfectly wrapped gifts. A pot-belly-like-jelly man in a red suit traveling in a sweet, eco-friendly reindeer-driven sleigh. And let’s not forget, that little thing about celebrating the birth of the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD (hallelujah and AMEN).

My family has, unfortunately, done nothing but decrease in number over the years, preventing the continuation of many of the traditions I remember from childhood. However, my mom and I have managed to re-formulate the two aforementioned holidays, laughing at fun memories, finding joy in observing new traditions, and celebrating in new places and ways.

But after the Pumpkin Spice Lattés and Peppermint Mochas have all been drunk, there it is, the next calendar event, coming at you like a freight train.

New. Year’s. (Rockin). Eve.

I challenge you to find any holiday, anywhere, which is less able to live up to its press.

Maybe my impression of NYE has been fully (and erroneously) formed by far too many viewings of movies like “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” It may be entirely Meg Ryan’s fault, or perhaps more likely, Nora Ephron’s, that I associate NYE with a big fancy dress party at which long-awaited declarations of love are finally made (“It’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible” -Harry).

Yep, it could be Nora’s fault that I visualize so clearly the meeting of star crossed lovers at the top of the Empire State Building on New Year’s Eve (I know that technically speaking, the “Sleepless and Seattle” connection happened on Valentine’s Day, but it’s the romance of the thing that I am thinking of here).

If the late, great Nora is not fully responsible for my unrealistic expectations, I would like to place at least some of the blame on jewelry stores. From the Zales diamond commercials to the “Every Kiss Begins With Kay!” campaign, the ads start ramping up before Christmas and are in constant rotation around New Year’s, until their ubiquitous crescendo on February 14. Surely, scores of us are buying significant jewelry to present to our significant others at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, right?

Hmmmm. I think I may have identified my main problem with NYE, and it’s not rom-com related. Instead, it’s neatly contained in the phrase, “significant other.”

I am not so much with the having of one of those.

With one, maybe two exceptions in forty (mumble) years, I have never had one of those for a New Year’s celebration. And while Thanksgiving and Christmas are billed as holidays for family and friends, NYE seems to focus unnatural attention on having a particular person to kiss at midnight. 40 (mumble) years is a long time to wait for such a magical moment. Between you and me, 40 (mumble) years is a long time to wait for anything, but that is a story for another pamphlet (perhaps a series).

I am fortunate to have had some wonderful friends with whom to celebrate NYEs in the past. Some have been or are in similar magic-moment-free states, and understand what it’s like to ring in yet another year in this same season of life. Others are friends who, along the way, have discovered their significant others, and even moved on to have little significant others of their own. While sometimes newish families disappear from a singleton’s holiday observances, sometimes, blessedly, they do not.

Maybe it is the myth of NYE with which I truly take exception. I can’t be the only one not in the fancy dress, at a fancy party, dancing fancily with a handsome man, can I? The only one not receiving significant, year-end jewelry? The only one not traveling many miles across flyover states to meet my true love at the top of a NY landmark at the stroke of midnight?

I think the secret to enjoying a S.O.-free NYE is the same as enjoying anything, and that boils down to, for me, at least, managing my expectations.

On December 31, 2012, I will not be found in a ball room, wearing stilettos. I’ve made no plans for exotic travel to meet mysterious, sure-to-be-my-soulmate strangers. There are no setups, meetups, or dates in my near future. These are hardly tragedies. I mean, seriously, I can’t dance, my feet hurt in heels, and I get Raj-in-”Big-Bang-Theory”-level nervous when it comes to talking to men I’ve just met, no matter how romantic the location. I wouldn’t mind a kiss from my one true love at midnight. But I’ve lived this long without one, and life has been, and will continue to be, worth living.

What I am hoping for, and making plans to enjoy this New Year’s Eve, is fairly simple. I hope there will be a dinner spent with someone or ones whose company I enjoy. Bonus points if said meal contains at least one fried crunchy thing I can dip in sauce. If there is something approaching a crowd, I hope we can play dominoes or Apples to Apples and hilarity ensues. I am super hopeful there will be some quality chocolate to enjoy as the night progresses, and a sip or two of prosecco with which to toast the new year.

I hope for many things in 2013. But above and beyond everything else, I hope I can learn to fully enjoy the moments I experience for the joys they contain, instead of forever focusing on the joys they don’t.

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