Measuring time in arbitrary units often leads to confusion. The Mayans, for example, were obviously not using the Gregorian calendar when predicting the end of the world. The Gregorian calendar itself is not used universally; the Islamic calendar and the Chinese calendar are still widely used.
Having said that, it seems that cultures all over the world agree on one thing - everyone likes a party to celebrate the start of a new year.
I have, in the past, been fairly cynical about the whole party-like-it's-1999 thing. On the much-hailed eve of the millennium, my husband and I, exhausted by the needs of a new(ish) baby, decided to stay in. We invited the neighbours over. They proceeded to get massively drunk and have a row. We quietly sipped our champagne and watched the fireworks on TV, while they each carried on their diatribe outlining the other's massive perceived character faults. They made up (passionately) later.
Since then I have taken the view that a party is a party and the arbitrary start of a new set of 12 months does not mean I have to go out, spend a fortune, get drunk with people I hardly know, wear a silly hat and sing 'Auld Lang Syne'. Who actually knows the lyrics to that, anyway? We usually end up at the movies with virtually the whole cinema to ourselves.
So this year, when our plans for a quiet evening with some friends got turned on their head by circumstances outside of my control, I found myself agreeing to host a dinner at home, for many, with just 24 hours notice. Those who know me will know that this meant I would stress myself out about it.
Sure enough, last night, with a last minute shopping trip looming, I started the worrying. The usual absorber of my anxiety, my patient husband, told me not to worry (as if!). He said he would do the cooking (as if again!). I am a complete control freak and letting someone else take charge is outside my 'comfort zone'. I did not want to disappoint the people I had invited. I wanted the evening to be perfect.
Last night I found that we had bought ‘slimline’ ginger ale instead of normal ginger ale – this would never do as I was going to use it to cook my ham in (thanks Nigella http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/ginger-glazed-ham).
Oh, the worry that followed! I dashed to the supermarket this morning in the glorious sunshine and some great songs were playing on the radio. I bought the last of the ginger ale on the shelves, and some carrots I had forgotten to buy the day before and picked up a coffee and generally felt good. In fact I felt happy; happy to be out and about in such nice weather, happy that the new supermarket had opened in a small mall near our house, happy that the small mall had an excellent coffee shop, happy that I had found enough ginger ale and just happy to be alive. As I wished the man who bagged my shopping a ‘happy new year’ I realised that he would probably be working all day today and that his family are probably miles away. Would he be celebrating with friends? Would he be celebrating at all?
In that moment I had an epiphany. I would be celebrating this evening with my husband, my children and some very good friends. I was going home to prepare a veritable feast. My friends would all bring more food. We would have had enough food in the house to prepare a feast even if I hadn’t been shopping the night before. First world problem – worrying about having ‘enough’ food for a party?
So as the ‘new year’ starts, I am not going to make any resolutions I cannot keep. I am not going to resolve to lose weight – my muffin-top is now a whole muffin – because although vanity means that I would like to be slimmer, I am actually healthy and fit. I am not going to resolve to be a better wife or parent because I know I am being the best wife or parent I can be – I am not perfect and it is useless trying to strive for perfection. I read something recently in a book called The Happiness Project (http://www.happiness-project.com/) that came as a revelation for someone as perfectionist as I am – “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.
So here I am, writing this blog, relinquishing control of the kitchen to my husband and making the one resolution I hope to keep this year…to see the good in all that is around me.
Happy New Gregorian Year everyone! Have fun whatever you choose to do.