Division

It took me a very long time to recognize that I mark time in terms of anniversaries, not in terms of the calendar. New Year’s has always been a deeply ambivalent time for me. Everyone talks about how things will be different in the new year, and I’m never quite sure. I don’t look back at New Year’s, the way I do for my birthday, or my wedding anniversary, or the other, more private anniversaries that make our remembrance. I don’t think about who I was and what I was, this time last year around New Year’s.

New Year’s Eve seems like such an odd sort of holiday, we have taken a point in time, nothing more than a division line, and we have given it all this power and meaning, and we give it such authority over us (Does anyone else remember paranoia over not having anyone to kiss at midnight?). And then, when it never seems to quite live up to what we want or hope, we are disappointed.We have decided that we must have fun, we must be surrounded by people, we must be glittering and wild and gay. We must be the photo from a magazine, the front page of the newspaper. We must, at all costs, look cool and hip. We must be drunk and act with abandon.

We think about regrets, and we make resolutions, and all of it seems so artificial. I stopped the New Year’s resolutions over a decade ago, and now each year I work on a skill for my birthday. I give myself a whole year, and some how my birthday seems to inspire introspection on my part.

Perhaps I am so lost because there are no traditions around New Year’s Eve in my family. There were precious few around Christmas, and it took me many years to win back Christmas, to win back some sense of what I lost to dysfunction. For a very long time, on New Year’s, we went to a particular place, with a particular group of people, and now, well, now our son is dead and we are not welcome. I’m a bit adrift, to tell the truth. I don’t know what to do now, and I’m too shy to invite myself along to something. Everyone I know already has traditions, and I don’t seem to quite fit. We are extra.

I think the adrift is ok. The adrift, I think will not be forever, and I think I can live without doing the same thing every year. I think I can learn to cope with a quiet night, without the glittering masses, and I think I can just stand up and say that I’m not all that chuffed about New Year’s Eve, and carry on. I think it is possibly even a stretching thing for my poor soul, to cope with ambivalence and uncertainty.

I’m wondering, in my long and rambly way, what do you think of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and what do you do to celebrate? Does it suit? Does it matter?

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27 Responses to Division

  1. Duck says:

    Ugh husband and I were trying this out in our heads to, New Years eves, the best tradition we had was pre-infertiltiy and we would go to a comedy show, that ended long before midnight, and grab a drink in a pub, the end. It was wonderful, and expensive, so ever since being infertile that tradition is gone. Now, we stay at home, I usually cook soemthing, sometimes we have friends over, but, tonight, we will be alone, soemthing more private, quiet, just the two of us and our plus one(our doggie).

  2. Trish says:

    I feel the same way. I’ve actually always thought it was odd that we (at my job) get the day off. It’s a new year. That’s a holiday? Celebrating what, exactly? That time marches on?
    I don’t really get it.

    For me, I mark things by anniversary. Maybe by age, though as I get older, I’m losing track of even that. I was trying to remember when I dated someone the other day and almost called a friend to ask which year she bought her house because there was a particularly memorable weekend with the ex that we painted my friend’s brand new house.

    I think declaring it a new year and therefore significant is rather arbitrary. I’m making no resolutions this year. Maybe I’ll make one in June, it’s just as good a month as January.

  3. Bluebird says:

    I hate NYE. I think it causes a lot of unnecessary stress and drama. Like Valentine’s Day. Both of which, also, cause heartache for those without a date or plans. In the past few years I’ve declared freedom by virtue of “not buying in to it,” but I can’t help but be sad for my mom, who is recently divorced. I imagine she still feels a little down.

  4. Two Hands says:

    We are very quiet here. We watch a movie, eat some snacks, do the First Foot First Foot and that’s about it.
    You’d be more than welcome here by the way. We’d love to have you and Mr. Spit for New Year’s.
    It’s never been a big deal for us and I doubt it ever will be. I like your birthday tradition though, now that makes sense. Regardless of what you find yourself doing this new year, I hope you have a nice time with someone special (I’m looking at you here, Mr. S).

  5. Virginia says:

    I’ve never liked NYE, because of all the pressure – the kiss! The date! The improvements! Blah. I hate it even more now as it’s the day I gave birth to my stillborn child six years ago. Moving forward? New start? No. For me, it’s another reminder of what I don’t have, of what I’ve lost.

  6. Brown Owl says:

    I’m staying home, with my big blankie and tissues, hot lemon and honey, two aspirins, and a good book.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

  7. I’m sorry you’re not welcome where you used to be. You will always be welcome with me. Née years is no biggy to me either. I gave up on resolutions long ago and really am happy to be home and chill. We’ll be playing rock band tonight, nothing overly special

  8. Sigrun says:

    We do New Year’s quietly, too. Usually in bed early unless we watch a movie past midnight. But I do like my grandma’s old New Year’s thing about having your ironing, mending and dusting done so the New Year has a new start. Of course, the New Year brings my B’day right behind it. My New Year’s Eve outing is to get the Church ready for New Year’s Day Mass–a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church.

  9. Kristin says:

    We have never gone out for New Year’s Eve. We hang out at home with family and friends, play board games, and watch movies. This year we might have a Wii tournament.

  10. debby says:

    I have wine. I have the jalapenos stuffed. I have salsa and tortilla chips, and two movies. Please feel free to drop in. We’re deadly dull, I reckon, but we are comfortable in our quiet. We celebrate the turning of a page, a new start on a blank page. Who knows what will be written on the pages of the year 2010? Who knows?!!!

  11. Carmen says:

    New Years has always been a quiet night for me (save a couple when Nate and I were dating). Growing up, it was a night where my family would play board games together into the wee hours. Now, it is usually a night where Nate and I kick back with a movie and a bowl of popcorn. I too am not a resolution maker. It always seemed strange to me to make goals on one particular day. Why not set them whenever you see fit or when they seem appropriate? Happy New Years to you & Mr. Spit from another quiet couple down in Cowtown.

  12. linds says:

    I am all for a quiet evening at home, so I agree with you! Happy New Year!

  13. Jess says:

    I’ve always thought NYE was kind of a lame holiday. When I was in my 20’s my friends would go to first night in Providence and I would think, “You want to hang around outside, in the dark, in January, in New England… why, again?” Half the time I’m in bed before midnight. In college I went to Times Square (horrible idea, btw) and we got in a 7 car pileup on the way home and totaled the car (none of the people involved were drunk, deer caused it. I’m not sure if the deer been drinking or not, they took off before the cops showed up).

    Last year I was supposed to be in Yosemite getting engaged on New Year’s. Instead we were on the verge of breaking up, though we held off until the 3rd. This year, fresh on the heels of another breakup, I’m watching all my other friends (the ones who aren’t already married w/kids) get engaged. 3 couples so far just in December and I’m expecting another one any day. So, yeah, not my favorite holiday but the way I see it, it’s a day off of work and as far as the expectation that you should be doing something fabulous? Who cares? Do what makes you happy, whatever that is.

  14. Jayme says:

    I’m pretty sure it will be just like any other day at our house.

  15. Julie says:

    I hate New Years Eve. Partly it’s my whole “down with winter” thing, and partly it’s the reasons already mentioned by other comment-leavers. (Who knew I was in such good company?)

  16. Jamie says:

    Nah, I don’t think it matters at all. Since we both work in a hospital, Hubby and I have to work a certain number of holidays so we usually spend New Year’s or the Eve at work.

    I have always liked how January feels like a new start, so fresh. And really for no good reason. I wish I could get that ‘start over’ feeling at the beginning of every month.

  17. Azaera says:

    Not a huge deal for us, we’re just staying home, the three of us. Oddly enough I don’t feel like January first is the “new year” for me. January 26th is a new year for me because that’s the day I was born, and that’s when I start a new year in my life. The only real significance January first has for me is that it was my grama’s birthday, she died almost 12 years ago now and New Year’s is a time for me to remember her life.

  18. Sue says:

    New Year’s Eve was always fraught for me, for the same reasons you mention, looking like the picture in the magazine. Some were great, some were okay, some were not. Since being with C, it has become a tradition to travel to Seattle, to be with C’s oldest and dearest friends, and their wives. This year, C is there and I am alone. But that is okay, too. I had initially planned to accompany him, but November shook me too much. I will likely be walking the dog at midnight.

    Two years ago tonight, C and I decided to take “active management” of our situation and deliver the boys. The first step in trying to accept that there was, indeed, no hope. Still working on that.

    This night one year ago was spent remembering, trying to recover.

    I, too, mark time with anniversaries. Birthdays, the Jewish New Year, and the others you refer to. I jokingly call myself the Calendar Girl, as I seem to have stored so many dates and days in my head. Tomorrow night marks 11 years since C first kissed me. And I knew it would be an anniversary, too.

  19. Aunt Becky says:

    I hate NYE. Always have. I used to work every year and I was on the outside, and now I don’t work but I feel like I should be marking the year off and I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to do that.

  20. Carbon says:

    We watch the ball drop on TV. Every year, I love to watch it. I don’t know why, as I really don’t care for the rest of the Times Square pomp and circumstance.

    The only other tradition, handed down by my grandmother, is to get the Christmas decor out of sight. It is bad mojo to let the old (Christmas being a celebration of the old, the past?) see the New Year. While I am not superstitious in the least, it seems a way of honoring my grandmother.

    Thus, Christmas is boxed, alcohol sits in bottles on the counter, and I’ll be ready to turn the TV on not too long before Midnight.

    There are also fireworks downtown, I like hearing them though they are difficult to see from my house.

    Other than that, we’ll likely be enjoying Super Mario Wii and a quiet evening at home. 😀

  21. anonymous says:

    Mrs. Spit,

    I am spending the evening by myself in a cold place with ice and snow (winter sux!), but I am in a warm apartment. I have some yummy things to eat even though my place is a mess. (I’ll begin the new year by cleaning up tomorrow!) Like an earlier respondent, I place *my* true new year around my b-day, which is in December. I’ve already begun my resolutions (though I’m eating my nachos and pizza tonight, dammit). I feel a little bummed out, but I tell myself this will all be over with tomorrow morning. I am sorry you got dropped like a bad habit like that. Those folks never really were your friends and didn’t deserve the pleasure of your company and charm.

    Supposedly the year of the tiger is going to be more even-keeled than last year. Let’s hope that’s true!

  22. HereWeGoAJen says:

    I’ve always thought that people who think that the new year will be totally different are nuts. I mean, in reality, it is only one day different.

    I usually make a New Year’s Resolution but I do that sort of thing lots when it isn’t New Year’s Eve.

    Our traditions are to do nothing, not stay awake on purpose, and sometimes watch one of those TV marathons that they tend to run on New Years.

  23. Cheryl says:

    Tonight, like most New Year’s Eve’s, we’re home with our family, snuggled and warm. Last year, we ventured out with a number of very special people (including Mr. & Mrs. Spit + Mrs. Spit’s momma)to work our @$$#&$ off, in – 60 degree weather, to earn money for our baby loss support program. We cooked, we poured hot chocolate, we accepted money, we were sometimes cranky, we couldn’t stop laughing & oh, we were cold. But we kept the patrons happy (most of them), we kept the patrons laughing (most of them), we got a front row seat to the county’s fireworks show & somehow, we all survived. It will always be a memory that we’ll cherish, that such good people, who have given so much, would come out to help on such a bitterly cold night. I’m thankful this year that we had the foresight to say “no, thank you, we have plans this year” & stayed home. There are many great ways to raise money & believe me, our group needs money. But we need our friendships more & though we have a memory to hold on to, the guilt of having everyone show up & work in the frigid temps wasn’t something I wanted to experience again.

    Happy New Year to the Spits & all your faithful readers. I wish each of you a year that brings comfort to you on whatever journey you are currently traveling …

  24. a says:

    I like the idea of a fresh start – or an end to a crappy period – and I hate my birthday, so New Year’s works for me. Like Sigrun above, I have my house very clean and organized (for a change) in the hope that it will remain that way all year (fat chance with me in charge!).

    My parents used to go to NYE parties, and we would always go out for a nice dinner (sponsored by my grandmother’s Christmas gift)on New Year’s Day. The only tradition we are now observing (well, OK, it’s a superstition but so far it’s worked) is to not eat poultry on New Year’s Day – or else you’ll be scratching for money all year.

  25. a says:

    Oh, also, since I was encountering people at work yesterday (most days I’m at my desk and not interacting much), I took an informal poll of what people were doing for NYE…most everyone I spoke with was staying home.

    I’ve always been a practical sort, and standing outside in the middle of winter is just a bad idea. A nice formal event would be fun (because I never go to any), but I don’t like drunk people, so I prefer to be at home.

  26. excavator says:

    The self-consciousness around New Year’s Eve, the implication that there is a certain standard of affect that I might fall short on has been difficult to shake.

    It’s a strange thing that on one hand a large number of us have drawn a line and agreed that it is special, and requires a different approach than any other day. It seems like a pretense, a sort of mass hallucination, and I can’t forget the arbitrariness of it.

    On the other, part of what gives shape and meaning to our lives is the ways we mark time and reflect; our rituals. Sometimes creating meaning is easier when we go with the herd; other times herd mentality seems to alienate it. Still, swimming upstream is hard.

    Happy new year, Mrs. Spit. May 2010 bring you some lovely surprises.

  27. Ya Chun says:

    We are not really that into New Year’s. heck, we went to bed at like 9 like we do every night. the only thing that I like to keep up is having sauerkraut on New Year’s Day – brings luck for the whole year. Well, let’s hope it does.

    I think it’s just an excuse to party, like som many other things… And we don’t really do resolutions either.

    Meh.

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