Editor's Column: The worst holiday of the year

The transition from the year’s best holiday to the year’s worst is swift. We spend Christmas with our families eating food and swapping presents, then one week later we’re supposed to get drunk and kiss strangers on New Year’s Eve.

It’s the most over-hyped and under-participated-in holiday of the entire year. Young people tend to fall for the hoopla and anticipate going out on New Year’s Eve to have a good time. But after several years of utter boredom followed by a few seconds of terror and then hangovers, most wise up and spend New Year’s Eve at home with the spouse and dog. Even professional drinkers shun the evening because they don’t like being around so many silly amateurs trying desperately to have a good time.

I vaguely remember past celebrations that involved gaudy party hats and tassled tooters which everyone is equipped with as the stroke of midnight approaches. When the clock strikes 12, you’re supposed to toot, throw confetti into the air, and kiss someone nearby while the crowd sings “Auld Lang Syne,” the lyrics of which were unknown until Google came along. Now we know the chorus goes like this: “We twa hae run about the braes, and pou’d the gowans fine; But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin’ auld lang syne.” That about sums up one more confusing year on this planet.

The terror comes in with the kissing ritual, which any sane person seeks desperately to avoid. Watching the second hand approach 12, people sidle this way and that to get away from the less appealing folks in the crowd, while others such as myself sneak out of the room entirely. Lots of people don’t like kissing strangers in ballrooms, or even holding hands with strangers in church. Just leave us alone!

This celebratory ritual is something that no sober person would ever consider, so participation requires imbibing in vast quantities of champagne. The next morning you wake up with a hangover and start the new year with your head over the toilet. Happy New Year indeed!

It doesn’t take many such experiences for most people to decide to just stay home on New Year’s Eve, which is what everyone does on my street. It’s quiet on Methamphetamine Lane until midnight, when a few feeble fireworks left over from the Fourth of July are shot off into the black, wet, sky. Then it’s back inside to watch Dick Clark wrap up another New Year’s Eve on TV from his wheelchair. If he had stayed home more often on Dec. 31, he probably wouldn’t have had that stroke.

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