by | Dec 30, 2016 | The Writer's Life | 6 comments

S. Lee Manning: I hate the New Year’s holiday. Always have. Well, not always. When I was a kid, it was the one day in the year when I got to stay up until midnight. I’d eat potato chips with onion dip and watch the stupid ball come down, usually with a babysitter because my parents were at a New Year’s party. I envisioned an elegant, fun filled evening of romance – an illusion I kept of New Year’s parties until I hit dating age and the pressure of having a special someone for the holidays – which I rarely did until I met my husband in my late 20s.

Now, much older and happily married, I still dislike the New Year’s holiday. As someone who tends to be a bit on the depressive side, I just get worse around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. So, at this time of year, with everyone making lists, time to make my list – of ten things I most loathe about this holiday.
1          1. Television news listing the most significant events of the past year. I know that journalists, like the rest of us, want to take the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, but this is just lazy. And, yeah, yeah, I know Trump won, and Aleppo was destroyed.  I don’t need to be informed that these were significant events. I’m already aware. Which leads me to…
2        2.    The annual listing of the people who died in the calendar year. Can you spell d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-n-g? Or morbid? They died. I’m sad. I’m still mourning Carrie Fisher and now her mother. I have a black patch on my Jedi robe for Carrie Fisher, and a black patch on my umbrella for Debbie Reynolds, famous for Singing in the Rain, an oldie favorite.  But please, do we really need the parade of the dead that we get every end of the year? Wasn’t it sad enough to hear it once?
3       3.    On a lighter note – New Year’s hats. They’re stupid looking. Enough said.

         4.  Restaurant dining on New Year’s Eve. So, maybe you give in to the idea that you should do something to welcome the fact that you’ll be writing the wrong year on your checks – if you still use checks – for about a month and decide to go out to your favorite restaurant for your favorite meal. Only your favorite restaurant isn’t serving your favorite meal. It’s serving a $200 per person New Year’s Eve special. With Champaign – which is supposed to make up for the fact that your meal is $180 more than you wanted to pay. And you have to drink Champaign – leading us into number 5….
         5. Champaign. It’s expensive. It’s festive. We’re supposed to love it. I don’t. As generally served, it’s a sweet fizzy drink. If I want a drink, I’ll take Scotch. Glen Livet is very festive. If I want sweet, I’ll have a milkshake. But we’re supposed to drink Champaign, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Kind of circular, but there you are.

6        6. The forced gaiety. This is especially true at parties, where you tend to not know half the people. The music is ear-shatteringly loud, and people who don’t know how to dance are bumping and grinding into each other. You’re supposed to be dancing along with them, with a brief period of kissing everyone within reach when the clock ticks down to the new year, even though you just want to flee for fresh air. Then there’s the forced gaiety of the people you see crowded into Times Square waiting for the stupid ball to come down as it does every year. Those smiles you see on the faces of people in the crowd on television – they’re either too drunk and stoned to know what’s happening or they figure this will be the last image their loved ones have of them.  Hence the grins to fool the families into thinking their last moments were good ones.
7        7.   People shooting guns or fireworks at midnight. Usually happens just after I’ve fallen into a deep sleep, having resisted the social pressure to stay up past my usual bedtime. Scares the dogs. Scares me, especially when idiots fire actual bullets into the sky, and yes, people sometimes do fire actual rounds into sky.  Don’t people realize that what goes up….
8        8.  New Year’s resolutions. No, I don’t make them. Why set myself up for almost certain failure once a year? I do that all the time. Don’t need to make a big thing about it.
9         9. The darkness after the holiday. After New Year’s Day, all the decorations come down. The trees, the strings of lights, even the scary Christmas balloons, they’re gone until next year.  It’s the lights, bright colors or even just strings of white lights shining in the dark, that I especially miss. They

disappear, and we’re left with the coldest, darkest, and most depressing month of the year. January just goes on and on until it turns into February, the second most depressing month of the year. We could use some festive lights, at least until Valentine’s Day. And some more presents. Make every Friday in January a day to give one present to someone you love. Only not chocolate – I’ll still be fat from not having made a New Year’s resolution to lose the holiday weight. Books make really good January presents.

1        10.  Finally, let’s get to the essence of the holiday. New Year’s marks just how quickly time goes by and how fleeting our lives really are. This may in fact be the core of my whole shtick about New Year’s – because the holiday just underscores what I already know – “what heart heard of, ghost guessed: it is the blight that man was born for….” We are mortal. Time is short. Yada yada. All the hats and the Champaign and the fireworks and the forced gaiety are just trying to conceal that truly terrifying fact.
So, yay, another year gone. Take a deep breath and plunge into 2017. May the coming year be, well, tolerable.
Where’s the damn Glen Livet?
Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. John Sheldon

    I forgot to say that I agree with all of your objections to New Year's celebrations, and most of all that it's the beginning of January, which is my least favorite month of the year too. At least this year we have lots of snow to brighten things up – from 9 am when the sun is finally visible until it sets at 3. Oh: Best wishes for the New Year!

  2. S. Lee Manning

    Thanks, John, and best wishes back at you for the New Year.

  3. Gayle Lynds

    Oh, dear, how depressingly funny, S. Lee! Or maybe funnily depressing. Right now the day is incredibly beautiful with all of our fresh, deep snow, and two deer tracks across the back yard. That's a primary source of joy for us and for you and Jim, I know. May it continue through January and February!

  4. S. Lee Manning

    Nothing like a little humor to liven up the depression. Or a little depression to make the humor sharper.

    In any event, you're right. I find my joy and peace in the woods of Vermont. I enjoy you the snow, Gayle. (It's easy to love when Jim's the one who has to shovel.) Alas, I will not be back in Vermont for a few months yet.

  5. Jamie Freveletti

    Laughed at this. Hate Champagne and pass the Glen Livet! Talk to you soon.