I hate New Year’s Eve. And love it . . . sort of. But mostly I hate it. It’s my birthday, which is actually part of the reason I hate it. New Year’s Eve is one of the worst days to have a birthday. First of all, typically half of my friends are still out of town visiting family for the holidays. Sure, I never had to go to school on my birthday. That was a bonus. But I also grew up having poorly-attended birthday parties over Christmas break where I was the recipient of re-gifted presents in holiday wrap. My birthday was always a hastily-planned post-Christmas afterthought. (And now that I have a child whose birthday is two days after Christmas, I am repeating the same cycle of birthday neglect).
Me, on my first birthday. Notice the Christmas wrap?
I will never forget the Christmas of my 7th grade year. I had asked for nothing but a Casio keyboard for months. I was dying to have my own synthesized keyboard so I could carry it around and play Axel F But on Christmas morning, it was my SISTER who got a keyboard under the tree. None for me, but my sister, who could care less about a keyboard, was the one who got one. I remember crying in my room all day, thinking about how thoughtless my parents were . . . how unjust it was that my sister got a keyboard when I was the one who could play Chariots of Fire AND the theme song from St. Elmo’s Fire. The humanity! I was so distraught that my mom finally had to tell me that she’d saved the (bigger, better) keyboard to give me as a birthday present. But not until I’d wasted an entire day with lots of dramatic sobbing. Christmas/birthday gift confusion aside, New Year’s Eve sucks as a birthday because it means double the build-up, equaling to double the let-down should the day play out in any kind of mundane way. I am not immune to the birthday blues . . . those pangs of disappointment when THE BIG DAY is less than stellar. When you add New Year’s Eve expectations to that, it’s even more problematic. I feel like New Year’s Eve is this looming holiday we’ve given so much import to . . . that there is some underlying meaning we’ve assigned to how we spend ringing in the new year. (Right? Or is this just me?) I’ve always felt like I had to be doing something spectacular as the clock struck midnight . . . like if I wasn’t surrounded by confetti and music and kissing a cute boy, the rest of the year would inexplicably be ruined. I would love to say that I’ve grown out of this, but that feeling is still present, if I’m honest. For many years, I mitigated these feelings by throwing a huge birthday party / New Year’s Eve bash. I think we did this for every New Year’s Eve up until my 30th birthday. We rented out community centers or ballrooms, we went big with music and karaoke, we invited lots of friends and served lots of champagne. It was always a blast. It was also always a LOT of work.
That tissue paper confetti? I CUT THAT BY HAND. And I didn’t even have Pinterest to show me how or brag about it later.
After a decade of hosting a big shin-dig, I decided I’d had enough. Throwing your own birthday party is hard enough . . . throwing a birthday party where you feel responsible for everyone having a thrilling moment all the way up ‘till minute? Way too much work. And while I love my husband, partying planning is not in Mark’s gift mix. Party merriment? Yes. Party planning? Not so much. And I was tired of feeling responsible for everyone’s countdown moment. So we stopped throwing the parties, and started looking for destinations. Ah . . . but God forbid you try to go out to eat on New Year’s Eve with a small group. God forbid you actually want to ring in the New Year at an establishment that serves food or drink . . . because they will make you pay out the nose for the privilege of occupying a chair once the clock strikes. It’s insane and nearly impossible to find a place to go that is fun, that isn’t overpriced, and that doesn’t turn into a parade of cosmetic surgery cougars come 10pm. Then there is the drunk driving, which means everyone is reluctant to go out, combined with the exorbitant prices and the fact that everyone is out of town and the insane length of time between a reasonable dinner hour and midnight and SHEESH. It is a really difficult night. I know I need to let go of my expectations, but I can’t seem to shake the pressure. And yet . . . one year we decided to sit New Year’s Eve out . . . to just stay home and watch a countdown, and oh my word. I just felt so old and lame and lonely. I seriously remember thinking, “This is it. This is the year we are officially old.” Was I over-exaggerating and making too much of some symbolic milestone that really has no relevancy over my day-to-day life and well-being? Sure. I was. But I’m also the girl who named her blog Rage Against the Minivan. So. Last year, we went back out there. We’ll do the same again this year, even though the idea of watching Anderson and Kathy’s awkward banter sounds kind of appealing . . . hmmm. Maybe well just come home a LITTLE early. In less whiney news – I’m turning 37 this year, but last year I thought I was turning 37 all week leading up to my birthday, when a friend from childhood reminded me I was only turning 36. So! I’ve already grieved turning 37. And the loss of my memory. Bring it on! What are your feelings about New Year’s Eve? Do you believe the hype? Do you feel pressure to be doing something spectacular or are you content with some Chex mix and the remote?