The scene is a cramped basement flat in a Warsaw tenement on January 31st, 1938. Stanislaus and Anna, his bride, are toasting the new year with a few sips of vodka.
“So, Anna, tomorrow is 1939. I believe that will be a very good year.”
“To the new year, Stanislaus.”
See what I mean? With hindsight being 20-20 we all know that New Year’s Eve is meaningless as a time of future hope. I don’t mean we should be negative, but only, unless you have prophetic powers (and it’s my belief that everybody who claims to have such is a fraud and charlatan) you have no idea what the ensuing year is about to bring to you, despite your positive intentions and attitudes.
New Year’s Eve is intended to be a time of great festivity and frolic, yet it’s kind of an overhyped thing; an ‘invented’ fete, if you will. In recent years my involvement with it has toned down a lot. This is partially due to age, but also partially due to the fact I never liked NYE all that much. It was too forced for me. But, when I was younger, and probably more foolish, I did partake and did what was expected of one, which was (while spurred on with large lashings of firewater) to act stupidly and libidinously.
I do have some recollection of assorted NYE moments from through the years. Some are prettier than others.
– I first heard the Beatles at a NYE houseparty in 1963. This was before they had been on Ed Sullivan, and it was a 45-rpm record a guy brought back on a trip to England.
– At midnight one new year’s eve when I was in university we thought it would be a fine idea to march up to nearby Kingsway (a major Vancouver thoroughfare that was nearby) and shoot a 12-gauge shotgun into the sky. The shot had been removed from the cartridge BTW. Needless to say a cop care wheeled over and we were severely chastised. But that was all. If you did that today you probably would be shot.
– At that same party I walked into the bathroom only to be stopped at the door because a highly intoxicated pregnant girl had accidentally peed all over the floor. Those were they days – pregnancy and drunkenness combined.
– At another party, and feeling little pain at the end of the evening, we decided to head for home. The male of the couple who had accompanied us, and who was as inebriated as I was suggested he would drive. He was a cop. He suggested that all the other cops out there were his buddies so we would be fine.
– At a further party I was in very fond New Year’s embrace with a young lady that I had never met before. I had my hand well down the back of her skirt during our embrace. My girlfriend’s best friend entered the hallway. She looked. Said nothing. Left again, and I think it was about a year before she spoke to me again.
– New year’s being a time of resolve a friend once at midnight threw all his cigarettes into the fireplace. By 2 a.m. he was hitting up other smokers at the party for cigarettes.
And so it all went. Eventually contemporaries stopped mounting the big parties. So, for a time we went out to ‘official’ parties of the sort offered by hotels in which you get to partake of a mediocre meal and then go into a ballroom filled with people of whom you don’t know either at all, or not well enough to want to lock lips with at midnight. Those things always end up being much less fun than advertised.
And ultimately we stopped doing it at all. We would have a quiet evening with either a couple of family members, a couple of friends, or just the two of us. It works out fine. No expectations or false hopes for the coming year.
However you do it, may 2011 be for you what it will be for you. I can offer no prophecies but I hope we’ll all be back here this time next year.