I’ve never been very good at tradition. Sometimes they feel forced and contrived, sometimes they feel pointless, sometimes they feel anachronistic. Sometimes I feel like everyone else does them right, and when I join in I sort of spoil it a bit. This time of year is so full of tradition that I find it a little tiring. Christmas presents is the hardest for me. Every aspect of this tradition causes me some level of anxiety. Did I buy for everyone I was supposed to? Did I spend too much? Did I spend too little? Was I grateful enough? Too grateful? Should I have opened it right away?
If you have ever bought me a present and I seemed underwhelmed, don’t worry, I was actually very grateful. I just don’t show it very well. I panic a bit in the moment and choose all the wrong facial expressions.
For me, the few days between Christmas and New Years has become my favourite festive tradition. We hide away at home, nibbling on the left over chocolates, reading our Christmas books, playing our Christmas video games, watching some movies. It is quiet, and solitary and after all the hubbub of Christmas it is so essential. And New Years Eve is no different for me.
I know for a lot of people, New Years is a celebration. A big party. Going out, drinking, dancing, and being with all the people that are important to you as the year ticks over into the next one. I get that. That is a very understandable way to want to do New Years. In fact, that’s what I used to do to. But now I want something different.
In an average year, plenty goes wrong. I do a ton of wrong things, say a lot of things I shouldn’t and make a bunch of stupid mistakes. New years is a way of drawing a line under all that. You can put it all away. It’s still there, for reference. You don’t have to forget all about it, but you don’t have to live with it in the same way either. You don’t have to have it under your feet all the time either.
It’s about a clean start. How many times in your life do you get a proper clean start? A fresh beginning where an entire section of your life closes and a whole new thing starts? I think I have had three. Three really genuine fresh starts where if it was a film the scene would have ended on a fade to black. Those sort of fresh starts are really valuable but they are rare too. New Years lets you have a little one. It’s a little manufactured, sure. Nothing really changes. But it’s a way of taking stock. Who was I this year? Who do I want to be next year? And for me, a quiet new years eve, and a quiet start to new years day, gives me what I need to do this.
Happy new year, however you’re spending it.