NEW Year is a sprint to Christmas's marathon.
Christmas is mired in ritual and the false pretence of being about family and togetherness rather than the reality of a day of consumption followed by the obscene Boxing Day flooding of the high street.
New Year is one quick night and a month of guiltily avoided resolutions. Christmas is build up and New Year aftermath. Christmas is manners and gifts and cake – lots of cake – while New Year is pelting back Jager bombs at a rate of knots in a petty bid to forget failures past and yet to come. Christmas is for family, New Year for friends. Christmas for the old, New Year for the young. That's not a good thing, it's our punishment.
As every ying has a yang, so New Year is an opposite reaction to Christmas. To sitting nodding at elderly relatives while in the bathroom the best towels are out and the wedding china is seeing its yearly dust off and use. It's a reaction to pulling appropriately pitched faces at unwrapped socks and already owned DVDs. It's four weeks of pent-up excitement ended in anticlimax, Quality Street and a promised clean slate.
Clean slate? Fat chance. New Year is cramming yourself into a nightclub and passively succumbing to being treated as but one of a herd of bladdered cattle, chewing a cud of over-priced drinks, over-played songs, no seats and a three-mile queue for the Ladies.
I've spent a Hogmanay queuing for a club, queuing for the bar, giving up and queuing for the door out before spending the bells queuing for a taxi home. It's barely a celebration. It's a chance to let off steam after the oppressive Christmas celebrations but, with everyone having the same idea, it's a nightmare of fighting for space in a sea of hundreds of desperate revellers stuck on one countdown schedule. It's a shame we couldn't do it in alphabetised phases. A to E on January 1, F to J on January 2, and so on.
But bold is she who stays home on New Year's Eve. I tried it last year. Me, some bloke called Jools Holland, whom everyone said I should watch, shortbread, tea and the weight of my aloneness heavy on my soul. I like being alone. It was my ideal night but it's hard to feel ideal when the rest of the world is Facebooking photos of the inside of a club with rabidly optimistic captions.
My best ever New Year was sitting at Sydney Harbour watching the fireworks reflect off several thousand Tooheys-glossed faces and the salt water in the harbour. Sadly, that's not a financially viable annual option.
I'm not saying I don't like Hogmanay, I'm just saying we're not doing it for the right reasons. I'm saying it's OK to stay home.
I'm saying I wish I was old so I could sit in my house with a pot of tea and a premonition of all the things I'd like to achieve in 2013 but probably won't, just to get the disappointment over in one easy swoop. That would be nice. This New Year I'd like a free pass to be curmudgeonly. I just wish I'd thought to ask for it for Christmas.
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