I’m petitioning Congress (by that I mean complaining to my mail lady) to officially repeal January first as New Year’s Day. I want them to move it back two, three weeks. January first is too soon. We don’t have enough time to recover from Christmas before gearing up for all the gyrations that are involved in celebrating New Year’s.
Sure, January first is at the head of the Gregorian calendar, but man, how about cutting us some slack? We spend the three months following Labor Day in a headlong careen toward the Elvis Presley of holidays, Christmas Day. And of course there’s Christmas Eve. And all the Christmas parties, which start banging right after Thanksgiving. I mean, RIGHT after. Hell, people still have cranberry bits between their teeth at the first Christmas party. Then there’s the office party. And the family get-togethers. By the day after Christmas, most of us are reeling. The hangovers, the relatives, the financial freefall, the stress of shopping. The tremendous freight that surrounds this one day is so disproportionately gargantuan, we should declare a month of national mourning just so the general populace can take some time off and get our shit together.
But no, we’re still burning gift wrap in the fireplace and cleaning candy cane out of the couch cushions when New Year’s Eve shows up like an obnoxious guest who’s three hours early for the cocktail party, demanding to be serviced and celebrated. And it’s like he’s your landlord’s brother-in-law. What can you do but let him in? “Come on in, Marvin. Let me get you a drink. Say what? Yeah, I can tell you started early. Why don’t you take a seat on the couch. No, not that one, the one with the plastic cover. There ya go. One highball coming up. What’s that? Make it a double? Yeah, you had a hard year.”
If you’re still young and vital, like I am not, you probably still have plenty of gas in the tank for a night of partying, dancing, drinking and reveling as the last few hours of the year tick away into the haze of history. But if you’re a bit older and have kids, I’m guessing that you probably prefer to avoid amateur night, and either spend the evening hanging with your family or sharing some intimate time with your partner in a quiet, remote location. I can’t remember ever going to a New Year’s Eve party that wasn’t at my house. I probably did when I was younger, but I’m sure I blacked out.
Nowadays we come straggling home around 10:00 p.m. with the kids in tow, having spent 8-10 hours traipsing around town, taking in the various acts of First Night. I tell you, by the time First Night Star is done with, I’m ready to hang up my hat and crawl into a bunker like Punxsutawney Phil, and hibernate until mid-February when I’ll poke my head out of my hole and tell all those ambitious walkers and bikers and runners to get their lycra-clad asses the hell off my street.
If I had just a few extra weeks to catch my breath after Christmas, I’d be a lot more excited about New Year’s Eve. As it is, by Dec. 26 I am emotionally drained and so violently antisocial that I make Ted Kaczynski look like Lady Gaga. I need some down time, some Bob time. But New Year’s is right around the corner! Waiting with a big shovel! To hit me in the face!
And just try to get anything done during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Lots of businesses just give up and close the doors. And the people who do show up for work don’t give a shit. It’s like trying to have a classroom of sixth graders write an essay about algebra on the last day of school before summer vacation.
That week after Christmas? Everyone’s out of town. Everyone’s busy. Everyone’s tired. I know many of us could really get behind a big New Year’s Eve celebration if it was moved back to, say, Martin Luther King Day Jr., around January 20th. Yeah, that would be about right. Give me a good solid month to get the Tom and Jerry stains out of the carpet, return all the gifts that were obviously purchased at the last minute with absolutely no thought whatsoever, and take down all the Christmas decorations, indoors and out, so I can box everything tightly up and lock it away in the storeroom until the day after next Thanksgiving. I’d be able to bid a proper farewell to Christmas, and have time to sufficiently digest all that happened during the festive season. Not to mention having time to check into rehab, join a gym, and explore a relationship with Weight Watchers.
Then, by the time New Year’s rolls around, I’d have a sober, clear-eyed view of 2012. I’d already have a good start on losing this extra holiday bulk, and my blood pressure will likely have dropped a few points from its pre-Christmas peak of two thousand over one million. I say let in some daylight between these two monster holidays so the new year can be properly welcomed and celebrated. Let’s let the financial fallout of Christmas settle to the ground so at least we’ll know whether we’ll be toasting the new year with a nice Cristal Rosé, or a brown bagged bottle of André.