Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The nonsensical holiday

I don't recall ever looking forward to New Years Eve. (I'm finally going with the non-apostrophe spelling, after years of insisting on its inclusion. Sigh. I gave in.)

It seems to be a holiday for getting drunk, and that's it. There is no saving grace to this celebration; it's an empty thing. Even back in the day, when I was a drunk, the idea of a holiday dedicated to drinking was unappealing. After all, there was already St. Patrick's Day. We drunks called New Years Eve "Amateur Night", if we bothered to mention it at all. It was a night to stay in, maybe go to bed early, or watch a late movie if you were too antsy to sleep.

As for the infamous ball-drop in Times Square -- which looks tackier than ever this year, BTW -- no actual New Yorker would be caught dead in Times Square on New Years Eve. It's a sideshow for tourists (and the occasional group of young NYC teenagers who haven't developed personalities, as yet. They'll wise up.)

I think we continue to celebrate this silly holiday because...we've always done so, which is a lousy reason for doing anything. And because it's an established custom, it arrives with baggage. We all (well, most of us) grew up in families that celebrated New Years Eve. Those celebrations haunt us to this day, making us feel that we must also celebrate this emotional void that we call a holiday. It's ingrained to the point where it's common for people to ask, "What are you doing for New Years Eve?" You're expected to have an answer. It's an actual responsibility: doing something for New Years Eve. Meh.

When I was young, my parents hosted the New Years Eve bash for our extended family (i.e., our huge network of Italian relatives). A slew of aged, chain-smoking aunts and uncles would come over for a dull, drink-filled New Years Eve. They were thrilled to be able to eat many things, drink even more things, and fill the room with smoke. Ah, America! The land of opportunity. Immigrants all, they appreciated the evening greatly. And I suppose that's a plus. For the old people, these things were fun.

The highlight of the evening was watching the godawful Lawrence Welk Show on the teevee. Today, everyone who remembers the era understands that Welk's show was indeed the Most Boring Show Ever On Television. (And you have no idea how bad it looked to my newly acid-crazed teenage hippie eyes. "Oy" doesn't cut it.) And then all the old people would kiss. Sigh.
Aside: I have it on good authority that in hell, they only broadcast the Lawrence Welk Show. They show the same episode constantly (the one from 1957) -- including the commercials. This is absolute fact. You know it's true because you just read it on the internet -- the acid test for truth.)
Even after saying all this, I must admit I'm glad that a "new year" is beginning. (It's really not, you know; it's just a calendar event, which makes it a virtual event. The actual world is untouched by calendars. Just thought I'd point that out.) For me, New Years Day means the holiday detritus has been swept away and reality will soon return. Xmas is nice but it's just a mass delusion. We can't live in that fantasy all the time. New Years Eve wipes the slate clean. And for this, I'm thankful.

One final note: I don't do resolutions. See, I don't have to because I have what I like to call...a plan. This plan requires that I write as much as I can between now and the beginning of the baseball season. If things proceed as scheduled, at the conclusion of this period a new novel will literally pop into existence. It's like a real-life miracle! And so, at the tail end of this curmudgeonly post, I ask that you wish me luck.

I close with a wish  -- that my readers will remain healthy, happy and free of religious delusion in the coming year. (And if you're not healthy, that you get well this year. Don't give up. ) I wish everyone dogspeed on life's journey. Arf!