Here’s the thing:
I don’t like New Year’s Eve.
I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed it; probably in the latter half of the 1990’s, celebrating with friends in local pubs, back in my home town. We’d get drunk, then gather in the town square waiting for the clock to strike midnight, which somehow gave everyone permission to kiss each other.
Even then there was always something melancholy about it; I resented being forced to look happy, to celebrate something as banal as the changing of the date.
It wasn’t always this way; I remember being excited as a child, being allowed to stay up until midnight, singing Auld Lang Syne, eating party snacks, and playing with my friends upstairs while our parents drank downstairs.
As a child I enjoyed it, but as an adult not so much.
To illustrate my point, here are diary excerpts from three new year’s eves, each one spent in a different country.
This afternoon a Japanese friend stopped by with a Y2K emergency food kit, just in case the modern world comes to a standstill upon the strike of midnight tonight.
Will planes really fall out of the sky?
At 11:30pm I went down to the beach, to watch fireworks light up the sky, before walking to one of the big shrines, where all the action seemed to be taking place, but I didn’t stick around for long.
I feel like too much of an outsider.
I spent the evening trying to celebrate the dawn of the new year in a crowded pub in Oxford, with an old school friend. Complete contrast to last year. Funny to think that everyone was worried a year ago about the supposed Y2K bug. Everyone else in the pub looked like they were having fun, but it was too crowded, too false, and I’d rather have stayed home.
We drank a few beers at the house before heading out to a bar; quite a normal activity for a New Year’s Eve, but it was more exotic simply because we are in Australia.
Despite being with fantastic friends, in an amazing place, I still found myself feeling melancholy; there’s just something about New Year’s Eve that draws out a darkness that even fireworks cannot illuminate.
These days I don’t bother trying to stay up until midnight; I’m usually in bed asleep by 11. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t particularly enjoy new year’s eve either, so we don’t feel pressure to go out and celebrate. There will soon come a time, though, when our children are older and will want to stay up, to celebrate the changing of the year. Maybe it will be more fun, watching it through their eyes.