At some point in your life, you will be asked to name your favorite holiday. Don’t take this question lightly, because you’ll inevitably be judged on your answer. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, so you can wisely assume that I enjoy stuffing my face with starched vegetables and fowl. If you answer ‘Christmas,’ this means you’re either a) very spoiled, b) very Christian, or c) not interesting enough to come up with a less obvious holiday. In addition, ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ means you’re an alcoholic, ‘Valentine’s Day’ means you’re engaged or newly married, and ‘Columbus Day’ means you hate Native Americans. See? It’s a loaded question.
This past week, I was at a Christmas party when a family friend mentioned that her favorite holiday was, without a doubt, New Years. Hmm… New Years. It’s an interesting choice, especially since New Years is like Rudolph amongst all the other holiday reindeer: that is, it’s different. On New Years, we don’t celebrate anything constant, like other holidays with their tributes to baby Jesus, St. Patrick, or Chris Columbus. Even our worst holiday (Presidents’ Day) is in honor of George Washington’s birthday, which doesn’t change. Meanwhile, what do we celebrate on New Years? The future? The past? Or is it our annual ability to drop a giant lighted ball in New York City without electrical malfunction?
Even though the target of our celebration is always changing, we have developed wonderful traditions for celebrating January 1st. In the days before, we endure a painstaking year-in-review, where we curl up with our diaries and reflect on the past year. (Gag.) We then get to watch numerous TV retrospectives on people who died during the past year. (Uplifting!) And we prepare our New Year’s resolutions, which always include “Get in shape” and “Drink less.” (Although we naturally expect to get fat and drunk on New Year’s Eve itself.)
Ah yes, New Year’s Eve is our opportunity to party like it’s [insert-new-year-here]. We dance, we pop champagne, and we leave kids wondering why the grown-ups are all so thirsty (along with, “Wow! This is what midnight is like!”). For grown-ups, NYE is also the kickoff to mating season. You need to find someone to kiss once the clock strikes twelve. Who will it be? Mr. Shady in the corner? Ms. Already lost her purse and it’s 8 PM? Or Mr(s). Ambiguously gendered person and you’re just curious to find out?
As such, New Years is full of wholesome, Jesus-like traditions. And it’s also an anniversary of sorts, for all the great New Years we’ve had in the past (Personally, my favorite New Years was 2000, when Y2K didn’t blow up the world).
But again, unlike other holidays that simply come and go, New Years leaves us with a bitter aftertaste: An expensive and rarely utilized gym membership… An inability to accurately date checks until it’s well into March… And if you went for Mr. Shady in the corner, a risk of catching oral herpes.
So, I’m not judging*, but I really can’t see how New Years could be anyone’s favorite holiday… except for Mr. Shady, I guess. It’s definitely his favorite.
* Yeah right. I’m totally judging.