New Year’s Eve is a lot like Valentine’s Day, a supposedly fun holiday that rarely is. It puts entirely too much pressure on us. Go out! Get drunk! Party your ass off! Oh, and you need to have someone to kiss at midnight! If you don’t like to stay out late, or you don’t drink, or if you’re single, or if you’re just not inclined to hang out in big crowds having loud celebrations…all that pressure sucks.
In my twenties I tried to love New Year’s Eve—I really did. I went to bars. I went to costume parties. I made the rounds in Manhattan and paid ridiculous cover charges and wore cute dresses that were never warm enough. I sipped colorful cocktails that made my head ache. I knew everyone was going to ask me what my plans were, and I couldn’t bring myself to say “Meh. Might just stay in.” In retrospect, I think my brain had been addled by too much chick lit and “Sex and the City.” I felt like I had to have something fabulous lined up—something that would let me keep my street cred as an hot urban twentysomething. But once there, I was checking my watch, calculating how soon I could make a break for it without seeming boring or ungracious.
Then, in 2004, I got strep throat over the holidays. Going out was not an option. I was positively gleeful that I had a valid excuse to stay home in my jammies. I watched the fireworks from my living room window, and went to bed at approximately 12:03. It was fucking awesome.
After that, I resolved to embrace low-key New Year’s celebrations. A small dinner party at someone’s apartment? Sign me up. Having some friends over to eat fondue and watch movies? Great. It turned out that a lot of my friends were happy not to dress up and go out on the town. A lot of them admitted they had felt the same pressure to have a rollicking good time, and secretly hated it, too. Last year I celebrated New Year’s in Udaipur, India, with my family. It was amazing, but I couldn’t convince them to make it a yearly tradition.
Tonight I’ll be starting 2011 on the deeply snowy rooftop of my building. Some friends are coming over. Some other friends who live in the building are cooking. It will be super-relaxed. I’ll watch some fireworks and look forward to a happy, healthy new year, which is what I wish for all of you.
What are y’all up to? Outrageous festivities? Lounging at home? Got any good stories of New Year’s Eves past? Tell us how you’re ringing in 2011 in the comments….