New Year's Eve celebrations are a paradox.
It's deeply counter intuitive to try to take
advantage of a new year as an opportunity
for a new start by indulging the night before
in behavior which insures your new start
starts with a hangover guaranteed to rob you
of the initiative needed for change.
The problem is that the new year comes in
the midst of winter. Balanced against our
desire for a fresh start lies the role the
holidays play in getting us through the winter.
The winter is the toughest part of the year
for an animal such as a human being. There
is too little light. The sun falls early, often
pulling our spirits down too. The cold
numbs our capacity for sensual enjoyment,
and our physical natures can't forget that
which - given modern heating systems - we
intellectually forget: against the cold,
survival is a struggle.
But before the holidays, winter is enlivened
by the prospect of their coming. Magic's
in the air. Snow's romantic when tied
to Christmas. People brave the cold to
keep wearing clothing with a bit of
erotic charm; holiday lights enchant the
darkness; and the coming celebrations
generally enliven the growing gloom of the
After the holidays, winter's long and dreary.
It must just be gotten through until Spring
returns, mixing memory with desire to bring
us the cruel joys of April.
The passing of the holidays can be very
depressing indeed, and so
Excess is the whole point of New Year's Eve.
Yes, excess! Its purpose is to give us too much
of the holidays, and so cut the pain of watching
them disappear with the old year into the great
vanished with nothing to look forward to but
two or three more dreary months of winter.
Yes, New Year's Eve is at war with New Years.
So use the contradiction to fit your own needs.
If you want a new start, get to bed early and
rise and shine and go for a bracing swim at
dawn on New Year's Day. Make your new
start. If you're sad to see the holidays go,
party until you can barely lift your painful
head from its hung over pillow and say with
someone or the other from Shakespeare:
"If all the year were sporting holidays,
To play would be as tedious as to work."