I love Christmas, and the 2 weeks of family fun before school starts back up (today). But there is one day over the holidays that until this year has always niggled at me. New Year's Eve.
Now I've been to some fantastic New Year's Eve bashes. New Year's 1991 rings a bell - we rang in the New Year at a military gala at the Officer's Wardroom in Halifax, drinking from an endless champagne fountain and dancing to a brass band. My best friend got engaged that night, and when we got back to my flat in the wee hours it was snowing and we danced down the street and round the block reciting the New Year's Stanza from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam.
New Year's 1994 rings another bell. I spent Christmas that year with family in the UK, and went to an old school friend's tudor house for the New Year. Memories of darts and ale in an ancient low ceilinged pub in the village, followed by a spectacular house party and an excitable spill out into the streets at midnight for Hogmanay.
New Year's 2003 was another good one. The first in our current house, feeling like we were finally putting into port. Surrounded by the gentle hills, rolling fields, and majesty of pine and spruce against the snow, we tucked our three children into bed, and enjoyed an evening of peace by the fire, opening the back door at midnight to let out the old, and the front door to bring in the new and marking the occassion with a celebratory kiss under the misletoe and a warming glass of scotch.
But in general, New Year's Eve fills me with a sense of malaise. I either feel I have to stay up until midnight and wish I hadn't. Or I don't stay up and feel I ought to have because it's tradition. But this year it struck me (I'm a slow learner) that actually, December 31st isn't all that meaningful to me. Any meaning for the new year comes on January 1st when the year is young and fresh and I get up in the morning and look out across the fields to the river and the distant village. It's kind of the same feeling as a blank page in a new journal - a promise, a possibility, a feeling that anything and everything is possible.
Happy New Year.