There’s a particular sort of dread that accompanies a holiday you don’t enjoy. Every year it looms on the calendar, slowly but steadily coming closer, while you try to ignore it. Every year the pressure builds and arrangements must be made — or you risk being plan-less on that most momentous of nights.
You guess it: I’m talking about New Year’s Eve.
I’ve hated it since I was old enough to stay up until midnight watching on TV as people crowded into Times Square. Still, I went along with it; what choice did I have? I made lists of resolutions that I never followed. I worried about what to wear to parties. I stayed up and watched the ball drop on TV, even when I lived within a quick subway ride of Times Square. (I even went to Times Square once, but I was 18, if that counts as an excuse.)
Then one year it hit me. The fact that this day felt meaningless — that nothing ever seemed any different on January 1 than it had on December 31; that Champagne is one of the few alcoholic beverages I can’t stand; that I’m irrationally angered by year-end best-of lists — it all made sense. It was simply that January is not the start of my year.
Last week, in an effort to woo my 9-year-old] daughter from the comfort of her bed, I offered to bring her clothes to her. Contrary to her assurances the night before, nothing had been laid out. So I began searching through the array of possibilities. Shirt after shirt came out of the drawer and each time the response was the same, “No, too small, definitely too small — give it away.” Her conclusion: “I need some new things!”
As a matter of course I go through the drawers with my children every few months to see what is ready to be passed on to another kid or tossed. All the shirts my daughter discarded last week were one or two sizes two small; a few dated back as many as four years. Only a few weeks back I had touched these same garments and asked if they should be put aside, only to be assured “They FIT!” On a recent trip to the mall, I had suggested looking at t-shirts, only to be rebuffed. “No thanks, I don’t need anything,” my daughter told me then.
Before I began to roll my eyes or raise my voice in frustration, I took a deep breath in and remembered the old light bulb joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to want to change.”