I’ve never been fond of New Year’s Eve. Save for one perfect celebration back in ’94 (the best of Providence’s short-lived First Nights), a string of failures had cemented my New Year’s cynicism by the time Mr. P and I joined forces, and he accepted that, like my love/try-to-hate relationship with cigarettes, some things are just part of this package. Until my mid-twenties, my self-imposed panic to secure plans and contingencies increased annually, yet I always wound up watching the 11PM Law & Order with my parents until I could no longer justify the wait, and would fall asleep irate and underwhelmed at quarter to midnight. In ’96, some confusion regarding a ridiculous “New Year’s Night” soiree ground my evening to a halt before it started. In ’98, half an hour into a delightful cocktail party at a childhood friend’s home, my obviously-uncomfortable tag-along chum developed a flash-migraine, so once again I found myself ringing in the new year an hour early with those familiar words: “in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups…”
Several factors in addition to chronic disappointment culminate in my aversion to the holiday. I have some specific issues with authority, so I bristle at the cultural direction to make resolutions; I’m doing things perfectly well, thank you. Then there’s that ball. I’ve always resented the famous orb for its ability to draw crowds of thousands with its promise of performing the most anticlimactic feat imaginable. The ball doesn’t even drop, it descends slowly, and just sits there once it reaches the bottom of its decline. The ball should start at the bottom, increase in speed on the way up, and at the stroke of midnight, it should blast straight off its scaffolding before exploding into fireworks or confetti. I still wouldn’t stay up to watch it, but at least I wouldn’t find it so infuriating.
My mission to ignore New Year’s Eve became less pleasant by the year, and then something wonderful happened. I had a baby, which is wonderful all by itself, but suddenly no one expected me to make it to midnight anymore. And just as Billy the Kid neared the age that would compromise my excuse, what do you know? Two more babies! A pair of free passes to early December 31st turn-ins for another two years!
It turns out that if I’m under no obligation to stay awake, New Year’s Eve is delightful. On Saturday, Mr. P and I paused halfway through the remake of Dawn of the Dead for a 9:30 PM champagne toast, and as I happily headed to bed an hour later, towards dreams of organizing rations and ammo during a zombie apocalypse, I stopped in to give my little monsters an extra tuck and whispers of thanks for my reasonable bedtime.