NYE still reigns supreme as the life and soul of the holidays – and you’d better bel-Eve it
You know, I bet Scrooge absolutely loved New Year’s Eve. The Grinch too, come to think of it. Why, you ask? Well, in my experience, folks who aren’t as enamoured by Christmas as the masses, like myself – dare I even admit it! – tend to view December 31st and the pre-hangover segments of January 1st as somewhat of a seasonal consolation prize. Or, rather, a light at the end of the tinsel-tainted tunnel.
Maybe, just maybe, I tell myself: if I can get through Xmas – and the gauntlet of sprouts, tired sitcom repeats and never-ending avalanche of wrapped-up socks – more than I could feasibly wear in three lifetimes – then at the very least I get to celebrate a few days later with a night that is, you know, actually fun.
Not ‘pretend fun,’ which I would argue most of Christmas is, with its pitchy carols, the ever-growing annual blitz of Buble and desert-dry turkey, (not to mention the dodgy-looking 70-year-old biker men wearing red and inviting kids to sit on their lap in confined spaces that’s, erm, apparently not creepy at all…)
Instead, NYE offers so much more in terms of authentic pleasures. Firstly, and most importantly… no family. Or rather, no obligation of family, anyway.
I mean, sure, we all love our families. But, as they say, we can’t choose them, and – crucially – we did not choose them. And unlike most of the crappy Christmas gifts we receive, they don’t come with a handy receipt that allows us to return or exchange them… more’s the pity, sometimes.
Tipsy aunts disguising their alcoholism in festive cheer – with noses redder than Rudolph’s – heinously gassy Dads, overactive children and excessively-sentimental mothers… Let’s face it – just like hearing Band Aid for the zillionth time – it gets old.
But you know what never gets old? Getting pissed with your mates. And what better time to do it than the end – and start – of the calendar? Yes, at a time of year when we get to reflect on the twelve months that we’ve just endured – or enjoyed, depending on your luck – and look ahead, embracing the only real time it’s acceptable to feel that elusive emotion… hope; yes, hope that next year will be better. Looking ahead to the coming ‘Annus’ praying it will be less ‘horribilis’ than the last.
Of course, usually by the second week of Jan, as panic-bought gym memberships go tragically unused, Dry Januarys are failed with alarming speed, and the UK shows the extent of its greatest talent – being fucking freezing – we usually solemnly realise this year won’t, in fact, be all we had dreamed it would be.
But isn’t it great to dream? Isn’t it fabulous to chant a countdown in a room full of your favourite friends? Isn’t it special to start the year on a real high? (Sometimes literally, depending on your circle of friends…)
And yet, I’ve noticed, with horror, over the years my favourite holiday has become, perhaps, the most popular to slate of them all. As Halloween gets more and more bloody beloved, and Christmas continues to be everyone’s favourite everything – New Year’s Eve has become the Stephen Baldwin of annual holidays. Forgotten and – when not – increasingly mocked or shunned.
Bafflingly to me, so many people now take glee in sticking their sharpened knives into the annual celebrations, with their well-worn clichés.
‘It’s just so… anti-climactic, isn’t it?’
‘Everything costs twice as much, I’d rather stay in!’
‘The telly’s cracking on New Years, why go out?’
I’ll tell you why – because it’s fucking cool. There’s no stupid dress up. No forced fun. No eating so much food it feels like you’re about to recreate the John Hurt scene from Alien.
And that’s not all; there’s no Secret Santa (has anyone ever enjoyed this, really?) And none of the annual surprise that sweeps the country when Christmas decorations and songs are debuted in November, even though it happens EVERY DAMN YEAR. None of that. Just good drinks. Good music. Good people.
And, if I’m honest, I think the way you approach it really says a lot about you. All other holidays hand you your fun on a plate. Christmas gives you the music to listen to, the food to eat, the gifts – the lot. Halloween gives you the elaborate costuming. Valentines gives you – depending on your status – either the opportunity to smugly flaunt your love, or – alternatively – temporary depression.
But New Year’s Eve makes you actually work for your good time. You want it? Well then YOU make it happen! Yes, it gives you hardly any songs – bar Auld Langs Syne at midnight: cue the slow spinning – no themes, no guidance of where to go or with who. Instead, you decide it all. It’s all in your hands.
Of course, there are countless options, and so when it boils down to it, the night will be as fun as you make it. If you decide to go to Edinburgh for Hogmanay, you’ll be wowed by the fireworks and a giant street party, with shivering kilts as far as the eye can see. If you find the right house party, you’ll have made dozens of brand new friends by the brand new year – and, come on… is anything more poignant than that?
And so, basically, my view is, if you’re fun, then your New Year’s Eve will be fun. If you’re not, it won’t be. Harsh? Maybe. But hey, enjoy your turkey and EastEnders omnibus in December, by all means.
I’ll see you six days on, having the kind of night St Nick could only dream of. And my New Year’s Resolution? Well, you know, I think I’ve got it. It’s not to give more to charity, or even to lose that festive jowl, like usual. Instead, it’s that I trim the fat of my friendship group in 2019, and get rid of everyone who inexplicably hates New Year, stat! Because they have never, and will never realise that New Year’s doesn’t suck, as a matter of fact. They’re just doing it wrong.