Saturday, 31 December 2016

I hate New Year's Eve

Always have done, always will do. I am not sure how or why it started.  As a child it passed me by apart from the fireworks. I don't like loud sudden noises and avoided firework displays.  Why can't they have fireworks that don't crack but whoosh or swish. They still look lovely and all dogs and cats would be grateful.

We have had some enjoyable celebrations: friends of our Swiss family had a party where the children melted pieces of lead and dropped them into cold water and the shape would predict the year ahead.  We were the only two people who could speak only one language, and that included the multilingual children. We watched the fireworks on the river from a half a mile away - distant bangs!

Another in Los Angeles with friends of my sister's, formerly from Hungary. Rather curiously a strong smell of cooking cabbage wafted across the house just before midnight. That was the traditional Hungarian cabbage soup that partygoers had to fortify them for the journey home in sub zero temperatures (not the balmy LA evening).  But I'm all for traditions.

Some of the pleasantest and least stressful were at my neighbour's, the lovely Stella, everyone knew someone and no one knew everyone and we all lived within walking distance. No false jollity, simple food, a glass of champagne and home to bed.

Yes there have been some dire parties, false jollity with drunks lurching towards you at midnight, never mind driving on the road or throwing up on the Underground.  It isn't the actual evening but for me there is always a sense, of not quite doom, but something nasty lurking in the woodshed in the following year. I am more than happy to see the back of 2016.  We have lost some dear friends, some ridiculously young.  The awfulness of Syria, never mind other places in the Middle East and Africa.  Bloody Brexit, who knows what will happen with Trump, too much to worry about, and probably other things I haven't thought of. The dance macabre has been whirling around.

Our family has been blessed with a good year  I have a new role as chair of the trustees of the Institute of Health Visiting which is exciting and am very involved with the Needlemakers charity which will give away more money this year.  All good.  But still the cloud of expectation.

In my religious days (lost faith in my twenties, but that's another story), from a child I was very moved by the symbolism  of Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.  I probably believed it literally for a while but even when I didn't it gave hope.  The 10 days between the two are known as the Days of Awe. Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgement, but if you atone for your sins and ask forgiveness you have until Yom Kippur to weight the chances for a good year in your favour. God can't forgive you for hurting others, you have to ask directly.  In the same way as you might write a Christmas card to someone you haven't seen for a while, this is also a time to get back in touch. Then the Book is sealed and what will be will be.  Somehow I'm OK with that (no I don't take it literally) it is, it will be and somehow you have to get through it the best you can.

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