Nothing wears out its welcome faster than Christmas, eh? I’m looking at the tree like a party guest that stayed the night and showed no signs of leaving come dinner time. You still here? Same with the decorations – most of the kitchen stuff I’ve banished to the dining room table. I’m editing the December movie now, adding the requisite songs to the scenes - and I’m reminded how fine the carols sound before and during Christmas, and how wrong they sound the day after. I think that’s why New Year’s Eve is welcomed by so many; it can’t be the holiday itself, which is perhaps the worst of them all. No, New Year’s Eve is little more than sherbet made with vodka, something to cleanse the palate, and prepare you for the next course.

Mmmm. Vodka sherbet.

But New Year’s Eve fails, in the end; it scours the land clean of lingering Christmas, but it has nothing to offer after that. No one wakes up on New Year’s Day thinking warmly of the New Year’s Days they knew as a child. Ah yes, Mom used to make those special New Year’s Biscuits, and Dad always played our favorite New Year’s songs on a comb and a tissue. I still remember his stirring, buzzy renditions of “Yea, We Hobble Toward’st the Tomb” and “The January Jig.” No. Just headaches, a sodden tux wadded in the corner of the closet, cold cereal and Bowl Games. Oh, look. Nevada Tech is playing Oregon U in the D-Con Bowl. Goodie.

Happy New Year!

I’ve always thought that the new year should begin on May First, or perhaps April 16. There’s never anything new about the new year, particularly when you live up here - another gray day, huzzah, huzzah. If on the first day of the New Year the sun burst forth, the snows melted, the trees erupted with green leaves and birdsong, well yes, I’d celebrate. But as I say ever year: this is the only holiday whose dominant attribute is this: rent’s due. I suppose it’s a necessary holiday - you can’t upstage Christmas, after all. And you can’t just let Christmas sit there burning brightly until it crackles and topples. New Year’s Eve is the great secular reconnect, a tip of the hat to the tick of the clock. Nothing more. It makes perfect sense that it’s signature tune is called “Auld Lang Syne” – three words everyone can say, and hardly anyone can translate. Whatever! Whooo!

I will say this – probably said it last year, and the year before, too - he New Year’s Eve I’ll always remember is Dec. 31, 2001, when Times Square was packed with about 326 million people who screamed “yeah well Al Qaeda THIS, yo” and Rudy swore in Nurse Bloomberg before the cheering crowds. I watched that moment through the back door window – I’d gone outside for the first cigar of 02, and the neighbors were setting off fireworks. I felt better at that moment than I’d felt since September 10.

It seems strange to recall now, but none of the big bad things we feared happened in 02. No domestic terrorism; no new campaign. I don’t think we expected that 02 would have been the time when we caught our breath, but it was. History has its own peculiar momentum; clouds may be gathering now that won’t break until 05 or beyond. Or everything could change in a day. If we know anything now, it’s that any date can be burned into our memories forevermore – 9/11, 2/07, 5/25, 12/31. But we set this aside tonight. We greet the new year as though we're guaranteed its full measure. Of course we're not - and that's all the more reason to put on silly hats and pound hooch and welcome the new year with whoops and cheers and hope. Why not?

You prefer the alternative?

I’m probably reading too much into this, and I’m sure a little googling would prove my thesis to be shaky and fallacious, but: is it not typically American to celebrate the eve of the new year rather than the arrival of the thing itself? We don’t celebrate the old dead year shuffling off to die, or the new year that gets dropped squalling in our laps. We celebrate that giddy boozy interval between what was and what will be.

Happy interstitial alcoholic sherbet to you!

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