A pox on New Year’s Eve!

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blankNew Year’s Eve is the dumbest reason for a celebration ever invented. There are no presents; there is no trick or treat; there is no green beer; there are no fireworks like the Fourth of July; there is no barbecue to slather all over your face and arteries.

You are supposed to be gay — about what? A year is ended? Another one lies ahead? What’s the big deal? Every day is an ending and a beginning. Big deal! The Romans gave us Janus, the two-headed God that could look to the past and to the future. That is symbolic? Of what? Then the first month of the year got named January when they readjusted all the calendars. What a mess that must have been without computers!

So, this is the deal. On New Year’s Eve, you are supposed to go out and celebrate with gay abandon. Be silly. Make noise. Drink champagne. Wear stupid paper hats. Blow stupid paper noisemakers into other people’s stupid faces. Dance with gay abandon. Increase your alcohol level to illegal limits. Be happy!

Why? To watch, on TV, a stupid ball fall down a stupid neon spire while everyone counts backwards from 10? If you are actually in Times Square when that is happening, people are vomiting all around you. How gay! What fun! Intellectually diverting! How charming! How sophisticated!

My dislike of this charade may have started with my first high school date on New Year’s Eve. My friend’s Lutheran church teen group had a New Year’s Eve party. It was pretty dull, and hard to raise enthusiasm for fun when there was no reason for it with people who didn’t really know each other. Maybe everyone was thinking of Martin Luther and the Reformation. I may have been home before midnight. I may have been groped. I was too innocent to know.

Years later, I threw a New Year’s Eve Party in Connecticut. I invited both current boyfriends and a few other friends for champagne and caviar. The party was a success.

As the evening grew older, I threw a champagne glass from my balcony down to the sidewalk below, in my best imitation of the gay abandon of a character in one of Tolstoy’s novels throwing a crystal champagne glass into the fireplace. Unfortunately that attracted the attention of neighbors who called the police, who knocked on the door and asked us to calm it down.

The Main Man, who was not yet the main man, nearly abandoned me at that point but he was the one I went home with.

The best of all New Year’s events in our lives came about in Winters through the hospitality of Jacqueline and Tony Avellar. They initiated and hosted a New Year’s morning brunch of the Olde Phartze, Companions and Friends for at least 15 years.  We would meet around 8 a.m. for a luxurious potluck breakfast. After mimosas and coffee, there was an assortment of great things to eat.

What made it special was the word of the day, chosen by the hosts. Each guest had to be prepared to contribute a story, a poem, a song on the theme of the day — what it meant to them. The theme could be Friends, Family, Gratitude, America — anything that the hosts wanted.

One time we stood in the chilly almond orchard and sang “America the Beautiful.” A grumpy owl got up and flew out of its nesting box whenever we started singing. Critic!

What I remember is the warm feeling of people who cared about the world, about the people and issues in it, and who were doing things to participate in this world we live in. There was creativity and passion in the individual illustrations of one word. One word that brought us together year after year.

That is a very smart way to celebrate the New Year.

It all comes down to the theme song of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

The chorus line says it all: “New Year’s Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp.”

It makes me cry every time.

Happy New Year!

 

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