No, not Christmas, and no, not going back to work yesterday morning. Neither of those are really my bag, baby. I'm talking about New Year. I'm fairly sure I've written about it before, but I can't be arsed to hunt through old blog entries to look it up so if this is identical, then I'm sorry you noticed, but grateful you've stuck at reading this blog for so long.
Bear with me, I'm not a total Grinch, I love New Year for the same reasons most people love Christmas – being with the people you love, in a place that makes you happy and forgetting all the everyday worries and bullshit. And I do enjoy Christmas, even though I disagree with an awful lot of its mandatory activities.
New Year has no obligations, no bill to foot other than the next round of drinks and a funny hat. People don't come and force gifts upon you unasked for, you can easily decline a drink without fear of offence (I never would, have no fear). As opposed to Christmas, which if you dislike its environmental nightmare implications will get you labelled a killjoy. A fact I have once again learned the hard way.
This year, I posted a note on facebook – with a link to a study showing how uselesspresents are sinking the world into an unending landfill of plasticarmageddon (as we all drown at the bottom I like to think a well-meaning auntie will have bought me a singing plastic money box as an end of the world present, having learned nothing) – explaining that I did not want any gifts, nothing, nada. I know what people are like though, I know they think I'm lying, and that they believe you can only show people how much you love them by bankrupting yourself buying novelty bottle openers. So I made a list, like a five year old might. Booze, fags and guitar strings – so not exactly like a five year old. But things I can use, things that I enjoy, things that will make my life a little bit better. I even specified which kind, in order to avoid my usual sideways look and 'Thank you,' that shows what a terrible liar I am as the disappointment spreads over my face.
A lot like this face, but a little less green
Many people liked the post, some of them shared it, these very same people then came over, at Christmas, and had the barefaced cheek to give me things I can neither drink, smoke, nor play Van Halen riffs on. I am naming no names, and I love you all dearly, and I am sorry for being an ungrateful shit. But I should not be made to feel like this. I am happy to buy gifts for people who want gifts, I am happy to get your children something that makes a dreadful noise or an awful mess and puts a massive smile on their faces, I will not deny you your Christmas. But I will love you all the more if you fucking listen to me for once.
The whole thing is an ecological disaster, from the unrecyclable cards and wrapping paper, (a well-meaning right-on friend posted a complaint about the brown paper they had ordered for greener Christmas presents turning up in plastic wrapping. I would have liked to see the post complaining about the paper mache delivery had it been raining that day, and had to bite my tongue over the irony of having your brown paper delivered by petrol guzzling vans and trains in order to save the world a very small amount, and yourself a walk to the post office.) to the truckloads of uneaten food and the endless sea of plastic novelty bullshit.
Congratulations, this is where all your overspending ends up
I realise the irony of my situation is that my day job is very much in the production of novelty shit that people buy for Christmas, and if everybody took my advice then I would be out of a job. But I am prepared to take that hit, if it will help save the planet. In the same way that I would eat nothing but plant-based food stuffs if there was a unified movement to stop the destruction of the earth by ending intensive industrialised livestock farming. (Full disclosure, I am not a vegan, I do very much enjoy their tasty foods though and refuse to use the phrase Flexitarian on the grounds of not being a pretentious wankbiscuit. However, I worry that as the world burns and the last humans are dying they will justify their choices by crying, 'But the cheese tasted weird! The cheese!' Also, though I have not done any serious research on whether the world turning vegan would help, I do get the feeling that swapping fields fill of oxygen-guzzling, methane-blasting cancer-inducing, colon-clogging meaty beasts for fields of carbon-dioxide-neutralising, oxygen-producing, nutrient-filled, bowel-emptying plants might help a bit.)
So how do I justify my New Year love? Easy, it's just booze, all in lovely recyclable glass and aluminium (please ignore the plastic bottled mixers and crisp bags) and I have never been to an NYE party where the leftover food hasn't been hosed up by the 4am munchies. Food that you don't have to sit around the table for a hundred years to eat while your weird Auntie Linda tells you how much you've grown and strokes your knee innapropriately. We're all standing, if you're bored you can shout, 'Oh my god, this is my jam!' and run off to the kitchen dancefloor, or head out on the town for a previously undisclosed prior engagement (hint for newbies, never throw the party yourself, you will have no out).
And do go out, make sure you are standing in the midwinter cold, holding a sticky drink you have secretly removed from the pub in your coat underneath a large clock – preferably attached to a church or similar public building as it strikes midnight (interestingly our local church clock did not bong at midnight, but I did hear it ring out quarter to four as I staggered back up the hill to my house). Kiss the people nearest you, whether you know them or not (please ensure the life-partner of your choice is first, otherwise your year will be off to a very bad start) spread a little magic, cross your arms and sing Auld Lang Syne (in minion if you don't know the words, like pretty much everybody in the world) spill that drink, light a naughty cigarette and march off to the after party, there will be leftover food to hoover up and drinks to minesweep. You can worry about everything else next year, but until you go to bed, the world is a little bit more magic, a little less wasteful, and entirely done by choice. You live in the same town as your friends and neighbours because you all love it, share that love for once.
However, you can stay home if you like, I won't judge you, like you do me when I don't want to do your secret fucking santa.
There is a palpable reason for this celebration, the world has completed one more full orbit around the sun, well done, I'll drink to that. I'm sure Jesus was a nice guy, but we can't celebrate every nice guy's birthday – on completely the wrong date – for thousands of years after they've died, we'd never be sober again.
I had no idea my dog had been out modelling for children's books