Auld Lang Syne

As any of my friends will tell you, I am a world class cynic. Hell, it was written on my Grade 9 report card. However, there are a few things about which I am something of a romantic. I get “notions” of how things should be, and am deeply disappointed if they don’t work out as I want them to.

New Year’s has always been one of these things. I don’t know why, exactly, or when I developed the mental list of how New Year’s should be. Now, for clarity, I am speaking of the widely celebrated December 1st – January 1st New Year, not Chinese or Jewish New Year, which I also find interesting.

To me, New Year should balance reflection and celebration. Resolutions can be made, for those inclined that way, but only important resolutions that you will make a concerted effort to keep. (Crush of people who invade my gym from January to March, and then vanish, I’m looking at you here.) New Year should be spent with good people. Family, possibly, but better, friends. Old friends who know the backstory to your reflections and your celebrations, because they went through them with you. New friends who make you laugh and offer the wonder of the discovery of a shared sense of humour or things in common.

Most importantly, though, New Year’s should be spent with Someone Special. I don’t care if you meet this person that night, or if it’s a partner you’ve been with for decades, but everyone should have someone to kiss at midnight. Ahh, you see, this is the crux. The kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve is, for me, akin to Communion. It is a blessing upon the year you have lived, and upon the year that is beginning. It is a testament to your value to your friends and loved ones. And it is proof that you are not alone. I might note here that for the majority of my life since I’ve been old enough to date, I have been alone on New Year’s (as in, probably with people, but not with anyone special).

For these and other, smaller reasons, New Year’s has typically been a crushing disappointment to me. I believe I’ve only ever had four midnight kisses. Three with significant others, and one peck from one of my brother’s drunken friends at a bash we held at my parents’ house at some point in my teens. Hardly a benediction.

New Year, in my “formative years”, typically involved one of my brother’s parties. You see, my brother is very charismatic, very social, and very good at throwing parties. Parties that would begin mid-afternoon on December 31st, and would offer up their last gasp at some point after noon on January 1st (followed by much cleaning before our parents returned home from wherever they were). Typically, my friends and I just piggybacked on these festivities, so there was never any question of who would be around, or what we’d be doing. Since growing up and moving out, though, New Year’s has been rough. Even the year I was in Australia, plans never really gelled, and we watched the fireworks (for which Sydney is famous) on TV. My first New Year with Andrew, we were sitting a 12-week-old beagle who’d been a resident of the house for three days. I honestly don’t remember what I was doing last year at New Year. I vaguely recall that’s when Paula had her party, to which I wasn’t invited, so Andrew and I may have spent it apart.

This year, I have few plans over the holidays. That is intentional. I have no plans for New Year’s. I have one invitation and one “we could…” conversation from someone who doesn’t like New Year much better than I do at this point. In addition, I am very, very superstitious about this New Year. Did whatever happen last New Year’s bring on the year I just had? What in hell did I do to deserve that? Because I don’t really remember what last New Year’s entailed, am I at risk for another year like this one was? And so, whatever I end up doing this New Year’s must be careful. But unlike Dana, I have not been feeling celebratory. She has every right to feel it, having emerged from under a curse a dozen years old. I, on the other hand, have, of late, been feeling… mourning. That’s the best I can describe it. And given what went on this year, and what has changed and what I have lost, it seems quite reasonable to me to be feeling that. And given how intensified my feelings on things become at New Year’s, it is even more important than usual for me to be around the right people. People who will get it, because I have no idea how much I have been burying this year, and how hard the reflection will hit me. On some level, I am terrified of this fucking manufactured, booze-soaked holiday.

And yet, somewhere in the back of my head, I imagine a handsome and charming date, perhaps a party with great people, or a delicious dinner with excellent wine, and champagne at midnight, with a kiss that speaks of nothing but promise.

Of course, when you have friends who offer to slip you roofies and make you cupcakes, perhaps a re-jigging of one’s New Year’s hopes is in order… 🙂

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