Today I present to you two New Years Eve sweaters! Yes I actually found (years ago) not one but two ornamental sweaters celebrating the New Year. One is complete with champaign glasses, fireworks and sparkly colors emphasizing the manufactured "spectacularness" of New Years Eve. That one night when one is expected to "trip the lights fantastic". The other, actually celebrates New York City on New Years Eve and interestingly enough, has a picture of the World Trade Center woven into it. Well, as a Jersey Girl, of course the "official New Years Eve Capital of the World" IS NYC!
But I don't get New Year's Eve. Its one of those "holidays" that just doesn't seem to fit in with my natural inclination based on the rhythms of the seasons. It seems so much more "natural" to have a "new year" begin in September when the crescendo of the summer ebbs and we have that sense of "returning" to the peace of Autumn in preparation for our "long winter's nap".
Or, lets step off the precipice into a new year in March when things are at their awakening ...when the earth comes alive with the damp smell of growth and rejuvenation. But January??
The Christmas Season seems right to me. The astronomical start of winter comes upon us overlaid with multiple layers of celebratory traditions ranging from the Christian Church, the Jewish holidays to the celebration of sun cycles, which harken back to a time when Northern hemisphere people experienced the cold darkness and had no "Weather Channel" to make assurances that the sun would return. So we revel in our evergreens, our flames and candles, our decorative lights that color the darkness each night. And a big part of this is in the anticipation.
Ahh, the prep work that goes into the holiday season! The holiday music starts before Thanksgiving and we're carpet bombed with tinsel and tannenbaum from Halloween on. The baking brewhaha begins well before the cookies are needed for Santa and the whirlwind of indoor decorations lay strewn throughout the house "on deck" just waiting to be displayed. Parties are planned, shoppers are strategizing their next move, a momentum is reached and maintained and there's a sense of excitement that fuels these activities with joy.
Then suddenly...its Christmas Eve. A joyous collection of individual traditions unique to each family. Reconnections are made. Memories are rediscovered. Stories are retold and the night feels like it should last forever...or at least more than 8 hours.
And then...Christmas Day! If there are young children in the house then its another story of magic and mayhem as wrapping paper carpets the floor, eyes widen and toys populate the house. If its a "more mature household" a relaxation takes place with the peace of the season, some hearfelt gifts and a special french toast breakfast.
Church, friends, family, movies, meals and amusement fill the day until around evening time. Its then that the realization of "the end" comes tickling at our consciousness. After all that...its OVER!
Its over for another whole year and there's no going back or postponing the inevitable.
But this is where New Years Eve comes in. And this is what I think the purpose of New Years is....to soften the blow.
Can you imagine the holidays without a New Years Eve? Imagine if Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and all the related "top of the year" celebrations came to a screeching halt with no easy let down. Imagine if we all took on the life of Bob Cratchet and "made merry" for one day then went back to the grind. This is the real reason I believe there is a New Years Eve celebration in January. We become so full of joy and excitement for a month that we need a soft landing and thankfully we have a time to slowly let down our landing gear with New Years Eve.
So even though, for me, it doesn't feel like it's part of the natural rhythms in the turning wheel called "a year", I guess it has its purpose. And that is to let us down gently... ease us back into our lives. It serves up a different kind of anticipation, still with celebration, but also with insight and self assessment, hopefully making ourselves better, to be the kind of people we always hoped we'd be and to re-enter our daily grind with a sense of enthusiasm rather than let down.
So drink that booze and drop that ball ... its back to work on Wednesday! Happy New Year!