I honestly can’t remember most New Year’s Eves in my life. Not because I was drinking so much, but because I’m over 60 and there were so many. With few exceptions, they have been either unremarkable, anti-climactic or so lonely and pathetic that I don’t even want to talk about it. Don’t get me wrong. I love any excuse to eat fun foods, drink alcohol and celebrate a contrived tradition that has no real meaning for me. But at this point in my life, I want to be invited to all the parties, I just don’t want to go to any of them.
It seems it’s the young who always eagerly await this overly hyped annual event. Those of us who have lived through enough of them have come to see it as the inevitable passing of another year that is capped off by a perfunctory need to make a big deal out of it. It’s one of those fun things in life that most of us eventually outgrow, like ordering off the kids menu or having wet dreams.
Celebrating New Year’s Eve has become a sobering metaphor for how we age through the decades. In our 20’s, we want to party-hardy (as we used to say). We want to go out to celebrate, get drunk with friends, have indiscriminate sex with strangers and ideally black-out completely so we don’t have to live with the shame of our reckless behavior.
In our 30’s, we’re perfectly happy to spend a cozy evening at home with our partners, some good wine and perhaps a few intimate friends. We don’t want to drive because suddenly we’re concerned about all those drunks on the road and we start saying things like, "New Year’s Eve is amateur night."
By the time we reach our 40’s, we really don’t give a shit anymore. We just want to stay home and avoid all the craziness. (Preferably not alone. Otherwise, we could wind-up throwing a pity-party for one.) We feel smarter than all those people on TV who are trying so hard to have a good time that they’re willing to stand in the freezing cold for hours. And instead of wanting to go to loud places, the noise from our neighbor's party is starting to annoy us.
Somewhere in our 50’s, we find ourselves struggling just to stay up until midnight. The biggest advantage to living on the west coast is we can watch the nine o’clock feed of the ball drop and call it a night.
So for those of you who are still young enough to make the attempt, knock yourselves out. Dick Clark would be proud of you. (Although, if you’re that young, you probably don’t even know who Dick Clark was.) For those of us who are too old to care anymore, that’s okay too. Release yourself from any pressure to celebrate outside your comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with watching a good Marx Brothers movie marathon.