Saturday, December 31, 2011


New Year's Eve has always been my favorite holiday.  When I was younger, I loved it because I imagined someday spending the evening at some glitzy, sparkly, jazzy sort of Manhattan cocktail ball, wearing something glittery and black and expensive, dancing with a handsome date, champagne in hand...

Honestly, I've watched "When Harry Met Sally" more times than I can count. 

And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. 
I guess I also always wanted to spend New Year's Eve in 1989.  Anyway.

So, I never went to that particular party, and I realize that this sort of unmet fantasy is exactly why so many people intensely dislike New Year's. But I have spent a New Year's Eve or two at some pretty great Los Angeles parties, handsome date at my side, champagne in hand.  Plus, these days, I'm honestly just as happy spending the evening in pajamas, watching a movie, drinking champagne from the funny frosted champagne glasses someone gave us at our wedding, the babies sleeping soundly and peacefully in the next room.

As it turns out, New Year's Eve isn't my favorite holiday because of the fantasy.  I love the holiday because it's the only time of the year that we're really encouraged to reflect on our lives: to look at every aspect, the good and bad, the accomplishments and disappointments, friends we made and friends we lost, what choices we made firmly for our own lives, and what was utterly outside of any control we could have hoped to have, perhaps taking us by surprise and changing our lives completely and irrevocably.

We remember what happened to ourselves alone, what happened in our families, our communities, and what happened to affect the whole world.  We become completely narcissistic for the moment, while also feeling completely insignificant, a speck of dust in an ocean of stars.  And then we look ahead to the coming year with a sense of awe, knowing that no matter what we plan, we have no possible way of knowing what we will be watching on all those news recaps one year from now, or if we will even be here to watch them.  And then we make plans anyway.  Because what else can we do?

And I love the holiday because, despite the fact that I live in LA, I still imagine New Year's as I did growing up - imbedded in the quiet heart of winter, blanketed in snow, the noise and color of Christmas well over.  Maybe a few twinkling lights are still strung, but January comes quietly in my mind, full of possibilities, but no promises, beckoning us forward into the unknown, asking us what we want to be and do and live.  My birthday is also in January, so I'm sure I'm sweet on the month more than most, and I love it, snow-covered or not.  January reminds me every year that I am alive, and that I can choose - for some part, anyway - how I spend that life.

I do make resolutions.  I do look at last year's resolutions.  I dream too big for the coming year even while looking wistfully at what I did not manage to accomplish over the last.  I'm an incorrigible optimist on this one night alone, year after year.  And I believe it anchors me, somehow.  We may each incorrectly count our life in years although it happens solely in moments, but I think we know our error.  So somehow, we turn the problem on its head, and once a year at least, we look back to count the moments, and for a night we live those moments as they happen, second by second, as best as we can.

Happy New Year, friends.  Being here, writing here, has helped me to live in the moments of my life more often than just once a year.  Thank you for coming along with me, and being a part of it.  All my very best to you, particularly on this incredible night that comes to meet you, wherever you are.

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