First published at Global News on December 29, 2017.
‘Twere the days before New Year’s, and all ’round the world
Revelers await 2018 being unfurled
Most creatures will toast — from human to mouse
But I’ll just be here, asleep in my house
As 2017 winds down, and the mad dash to tie up the year’s loose ends ramps up, politicians will do year-end interviews, and my fellow commentators will unpack 2017’s ups and downs, perhaps even laying out some predictions for 2018.
Instead, I opt to answer Frank Loesser’s timeless musical query, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?”
Absolutely nothing. And it will be spectacular.
As the Grinch of New Year’s, it’s worth noting that fewer and fewer people ask me that question each year, which suits me well.
(Indeed, newcomers to my workplace inquiring about my plans get quickly shushed by my longer-term colleagues who have already heard the perennial rant.)
Save for my childhood years, when the coming of a new year permitted me to stay up past bedtime, I’ve never enjoyed New Year’s Eve. We trumpet it as the passing of a year, but it’s really a loud and lengthy build-up to the changing of a single day, which just happens to fall at the end of the Gregorian calendar.
The digital age has even done away with the annual calendar swap-out formerly common in so many households.
No, I don’t have some repressed champagne-cork mishap from my formative years. It isn’t about my boredom with the anti-climactic Times Square ball drop. I wouldn’t even blame my family tradition of linking arms and singing “Auld Lang Syne” a couple of years.
I simply resent the purposelessness of New Year festivities.
It is a made-up holiday. The Seinfeld of observances — a day about nothing.
Unlike birthdays, which commemorate the passage of a year in a personalized way, and religious holidays, which carry meaning to believers, New Year’s Day is an administrative holiday with no more significance than the similarly contrived Family Day and Civic Holiday.
Yet our collective investment in New Year’s goes beyond merely enjoying a day off work — there’s a cosmically spiritual fervour driving some people’s celebration of it.
A look at Wikipedia’s entry for New Year’s Eve shows how circular the event is, offering a list of the holiday’s raisons d’être that includes: “reflection, late-night partying… [and] social gatherings during which participants may dance, eat, consume alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks.”
It’s difficult to imagine much sombre reflection emanating from the two latter categories, in particular when one factors in the thumping music, noisy cheers and strangers kissing anything appearing to bear a human form. All after a few hours of consuming imitation champagne, I’d add.
Not that Wikipedia is a definitive authority, but it does seem to reflect New Year’s existence as nothing but an excuse to party.
There’s nothing wrong with getting dolled up and having a party, but let’s be honest about why we’re doing it. (And who can afford the ridiculous New Year’s Eve restaurant and hotel premiums six days after Christmas?)
Though it’s not even the revelry of New Year’s that irks me, but rather the annual self-flagellation rituals in which so many partake. This forms the basis of New Year’s resolutions, the fodder of punchlines now, but which people still seem to make. Self-betterment is a noble goal, sure, but it isn’t coming from New Year’s resolutions.
Toronto Star reported in 2013 that of the 68 per cent of Canadians who made a resolution in 2012, one in five reneged on their pledge within 24 hours.
Just under half abandoned them within a month, with only 19 per cent making it to the end of the year. (If we believe them, that is.)
Weight loss typically ranks at or near the top of New Year’s resolutions, yet North Americans are getting fatter each year.
We seem to mistake the change in year with change in ourselves, which doesn’t have a timeline.
Viewing day one of a new year as a clean slate may be cathartic, but oftentimes this reflection just trudges up 12 months of baggage. Every year, I see people express the same yearning for a better year ahead, but it seems to come from a place of darkness, rather than hope.
If it brings you joy, then don’t let me rain on your parade. But if it’s another social obligation you have to shoulder, join me in celebrating No Year’s Eve.
And with that, this Grinch is out. Until next yea…week, that is.