Why New Year’s Eve is Amateur Night (and I’m the Amateur) [Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered]

I freely admit I’ve never been much of a New Year’s Eve reveler. To date, my most memorable and successful New Year’s Eve was probably in Columbus, Ohio circa 1989: we made tacos for a midnight dinner (crazy!) and did a conga line to “Walk Like an Egyptian,” as the Bangles’ performed on TV Dick Clark’s Rocking NYE Countdown, drinking Diet Coke out of Dixie cups, and eating peanut M & M’s by the pound.

The other was when this guy I was dating (well, at first I couldn’t stand him, then we were friends, then we slept together, then just friends again) showed up on New Year’s Eve. It was so magical and that’s when I knew I wanted to be with him

Wait. That wasn’t me. That was Meg Ryan.

The point is, everyone knows there is an underlying dread about the holidays, one that I always (and quite smugly) usually manage to escape – we all know it starts at Thanksgiving (though as far as “food holidays,” some would say Halloween) goes through Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa, and ends with New Year’s Day.

Every year, I think I’ve just managed to squeak by all of that expectation about the holidays, the drama of it all – the families who set out to have the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas, and it all ends up either a tragedy or black comedy about dysfunctional family relationships. Every year, sitting in a post-Christmas pile of presents and cards, gingerbread crumbs on my robe, I think, “Ha! I’ve outsmarted the rest of the world, and had a wonderful holiday season!”

Then, New Year’s Eve comes around. NYE: my Achilles heel of holidays.

This year was no exception.

They say the key to happiness is to know thyself.

See, I WANT to be the kind of girl who can wear 4-inch heels all night, who doesn’t mind freezing in a line behind a long velvet rope. Yet, I must accept I am not, nor will I ever be that girl.

Do you know what I see now when I see a pair of high heels? I see two weeks out of the gym, alternate ice and heat every 20 minutes and bring me a co-pay in the morning.

So, I make an effort to stay in. Hey, I like staying in! There is a peace of mind, a kinship, that comes with knowing you, like billions of others are falling asleep on their sofa, trying to stay awake until that damn ball drops. (And why is it a ball anyway? And why does it drop? )

Staying in on New Year’s represents so many of my eternal NYE resolutions: saving money, saving calories, tee-totaling.

Sure, I want to be the girl who passes the evening carrying cosmopolitans and sipping vodka tonics, the one whose pleasant buzz makes her an easygoing companion, relaxed, and maybe borderline giggly.

But, left to my own devices at these fish-out-of-water parties, I always end up drinking whatever someone hands me and downing it with like it’s Gatorade after last year’s Prostate Cancer Awareness 5K. I don’t mean to chug it like a freshman frat boy. It all just seems so refreshing at the time.

If only I could do what the wise sages say, and practice “knowing myself,” I’d be able to accept that my ideal New Years Eve involves some kind of evening yoga class (“stay for a special new year’s eve meditation with Okdwo on the harp! Woop woop!”) followed by a flannel-wrapped evening of journaling and reading January’s issue of “O” magazine cover to cover, then making lists of “intentions” (in large print next to that word, “NOT RESOLUTIONS!”)

I had wanted to stay in this year.

I wanted to stay in this year. I proposed to stay in. I begged to stay in. But, when we had three other couples in town for New Year’s Eve, all the way from the cozy, heated suburbs of Toronto, home is the last place most of them wanted to be…

So, what would it be this year? Would I find a way to stay true to myself, or like an insecure 16-year old cave to the pressure, and blow another NYE?

Stay tuned and find out in Part 2 of this series!

featured image credit: besighyawn