Maybe it's a New Jersey thing. A polling group based in Asbury Park is reporting that nearly 70% of the 1000 Americans they surveyed will be staying in tonight. But though we won't be staying home in New Jersey, you can add me, my spouse and one of my sons to that list.
In recent years, I have gotten better at handling the Christmas ballyhoo, the lead-up that begins in late September in some environs, the ambient shopping frenzy, the holiday hype, the relatives, and the post-Christmas let down. But I still feel guilty and slightly pathetic when the ball drops in Times Square and I'm not there. And don't want to be.
I guess I feel that my family can pretty much hold a candle to anyone's in the way we celebrate the ultimate family occasion--the first in this annual double feature. We indulge and lavish just enough, but not too much. We sing, we deck the halls, we wax nostalgic. We give to others. And most of all, we show our love and are happy to be together. Pretty much the essentials of the Silent Night thing, as I see it.
But New Years Eve seems more about social engagement, something my troop struggles with a bit. My husband works in another city. My teenagers are homeschooled, and currently unemployed. My social group consists of individual friends, a church and a community organization that are mine and not my family's. It has been a few years since my husband and I were invited to a New Years Eve party. And mostly that's okay. But I feel like it shouldn't be.
I miss dressing up, a little. I don't really miss yet another opportunity to overeat, or to watch others get sloshier, and ever less witty by the hour. Somehow the "fun" often failed to materialize at the parties I have attended.
New Years Eve has taken on a different kind of significance to me, and is most meaningfully passed with people I love--the short list. So we will lift our glasses right here. I am making biryani, and attempting cardamom bread. Midnight will find us feeding scribbled feelings, habits, and mistakes of the past year into our backyard firepit, and taking a phone call from our absent household member. We can see the city's fireworks from here, and hear the church bells.
And tomorrow morning I will get up and keep on keeping on, knowing that this demarcation may be all in our minds, but it is not without importance.