My brother and sister had vague plans. They had sodas and snacks, and they planned to stay up until midnight. Why, I asked Mom, were they doing this?
"They want to celebrate the new year."
"Because that's what people do."
I was six, my brother and sister thirteen and eleven--enough older than me that I figured this must be some vaguely grown-up thing. I never stayed up until midnight, but I saw the footage on TV every year of people who did, people crowded together in cold weather, wearing fancy clothes and silly hats, raising glasses in honor of...something.
To me, the new year only represented the end of Christmas vacation. In a couple days I'd be back in school, my brief, glorious period of freedom ended. It wasn't a new beginning, it was an ending. The good times were winding down.
Guess I've always been that way. I've never put much stock into the promise of a bright and shiny new year. Arbitrary markings of time aside, it's just another day. Sure, as I got older, my brother and I took to ironically watching New Year's Rockin' Eve, an act of condescension that eventually became a full-blown ritual, so maybe the joke was on us all along.
Also, of course, I got married on New Year's Eve, and we joked that we picked that date so we could remember our anniversary, but five years later, we'd have no more anniversaries to mark. And for some time after that, I'd try to pretend the evening had no significance, just another night, not a reminder of failure and regret.
But hey, don't let my sourness ruin your mood. I'm doing okay as this year draws to a close. I have to work, so no midnight celebrations here, but let's face it, I probably wouldn't stay up anyway. Still, let me offer wishes to anyone who happens to read this:
Happy New Year.