I’ve been thinking about New Years the same way I’ve been thinking about the rest of the holidays this year. Trying to figure out if it has any meaning for me and if it does how would I celebrate it.
New Years has always eluded me. From the first time my mother told me and my brother and sister we could stay up till midnight to celebrate it. Maybe I was six or seven, but it would be years before I would actually be able to stay awake and bang the pot covers we took out of the kitchen cabinets with wooden spoons and yell Happy New Year. And the first time I did stay awake, I remember how I felt doing this, I was embarrassed. Now I know I could be obnoxious and silly and would have loved to bang some pots around so I really don’t know why I didn’t have fun doing it. Could it be, even back then, that I felt the emptiness of the ritual?
Maybe New Years is just too late at night for me. I’ve always had a hard time staying up late. When I was a teenager I could never stay awake long enough to watch Saturday Night Live and always missed out on the latest funniest skits. At Nassau Community College, where my sister and I both went, they’d have a special night where they’d show movies back to back till dawn. Once, I went with my sister and cousin, who watched every movie and talked about them for days, I fell asleep after the first movie.
I used to think that the noise makers and banging pots was to celebrate the new year coming in but now I understand it was originally done to chase the old spirits away. That makes more sense to me, because I never quite got why I was supposed to be so happy that it was a new year. It never really seemed to be that big of a difference between December 31st and January 1st.
And yes, I understand, it’s a time for retrospection and thinking about the future, but that seems more of a personal thing to me not something you have to stay up till midnight getting drunk to celebrate.
Last night we had dinner with friends and were home by 9:30. This morning we had brunch at the Round House Cafe with more friends. We might have done both even if it wasn’t New Years, but it was and both these events revolved around the fact that it was a holiday. So it seems that that’s what New Years is to me this year. Visiting with friends, eating good food and having good conversation. That works for me.
Maybe next year I’ll feel different. I’m beginning to think a good ritual for me around the holidays is to always do something different, instead of doing the same thing every year. No expectations, no easy way to compare one Christmas day or New Years Eve to another. The ritual of change.