Celebrating the New Year is Silly, but I Like It Anyway

The countdown shows up in a lot of different places, culturally. It can signify the start of a race, or diving into a cool lake on a warm summer’s day. Or, the impending detonation of a bomb. Last New Year’s Eve, I went out to a bar in the town where I go to college. It was loud, and raucous, and totally unlike every other place in that town on that night. And, thank goodness. Spending the last few hours of 2016 anywhere else would have been scary as hell. 2016 was a scary year. As a financially-stable, straight, white, male, I didn’t have the same kind of reasons to be scared as a lot of people. But, the worldview that rose to prominence during 2016 was — and is — a menace to the sort of world I hold dear. All that said, watching last few seconds of 2016 float away — in a crowd of a hundred or so people with whom I felt some sort of connection for just that moment — was really quite nice. That’s all it was: nice.

2017 was full of personal ups and downs — more than any other year I can remember, unless 4 was a really crazy age and I just forgot about it. This time a year ago, I thought I’d be in a radically different place at the end of 2017. Partly, I was right. But, not at all in the sort of way I’d predicted. Looking forward a year, things feel much more uncertain than they did when I looked ahead to now. We’ll see.

The New Year, and the Gregorian calendar it’s based on, is arbitrary. And, when I was younger, I used to think it was just another one of those dumb things people did for no real reason. I was right, but I didn’t yet understand the value of fake reasons. Fake reasons are the reasons that make you go to a concert or a museum or a nice restaurant. Fake reasons allow you to justify things you really shouldn’t have to justify in the first place. And the new year allows us all to justify starting some things over for no reason whatsoever. For a lot of us, the weather sucks right now. For some of us, the year was an exceptionally rough time. For the world, we’ve spent the last eleven-or-so months hoping two heads of state didn’t allow a twitter feud to devolve into nuclear war. For all of us, this new year is a very good reason to break out our eternal optimism — and some booze.

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