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GROB: Meet the New Year, same as the old year

By James Grob, [email protected]

I did not ring in the New Year with any kind of countdown or drunken display of debauchery. The big, bright apple fell onto Times Square, I guess, like it does every year, but I paid it no mind.

I gave my wife a New Year’s kiss sometime between 9-10 p.m., and said “it’s 2022 somewhere.”

She was going to sleep for the night, and had no interest in watching any “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” shows on television or popping any champagne bottles open at the stroke of midnight. I stayed up and flipped through some ball games, and binged some old “Breaking Bad” episodes on Netflix.

GROB: Meet the New Year, same as the old year
James Grob

The old year went, the new year arrived, and I didn’t even notice. Neither did Walter White. He was too busy cooking blue meth on my TV screen and violently expressing white male rage toward characters that were somehow worse people than he was, all for my viewing pleasure.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with celebrating the New Year — or celebrating anything else, for that matter. Through the years, I’ve always loved a good party, and I’ve rung in some doozies. The year 2000 stands out as one of the greatest parties I can recall, because in the backs of our minds, we really thought that maybe the Y2K hype was the real deal, and that the entire world was about to shut down and implode when those three zeroes popped up and melted all the software.

The worldwide collapse never happened, but we did sing that “1999” Prince song for most of the night. Prince predicted, years before, that we were going to party like it was 1999, and by God, we did. And it was good.

I recall another New Year’s Eve when about a dozen friends and I found ourselves snowed in because of an unexpected blizzard that arrived that evening. There were about 10 inches of snow, a sheet of ice, high winds, the roads were closed everywhere and we were trapped — in a fully stocked country club bar.

Because of the blizzard, we weren’t going to be leaving until daylight, at the earliest, and no one was coming to us until well after that. And the daughter of the people who owned the bar was our host. Did I mention that the bar was fully stocked? Plenty of bar food and a huge array of tasty beverages.

Yeah, by dawn on New Year’s Day, that bar needed to be fully restocked.

Lots of fun parties dot the historical record over the years, some good, some not so good, but I don’t really have a taste for them anymore. Let the younger, amateur drunks build their professional consumption resume, I say. It’s their turn to make fools of themselves.

What’s more important is what you do with the new year after the party is over and the hangover is tempered. Recently, I’ve noticed a psychological phenomenon that I like to call “Old Year Envy.”

This is the collective belief that the current year is by far and without question the worst year in the recorded history of years. We tend to blame the year itself for all the worst problems in our world. All the disasters, all the awful things that happen — it’s the year’s fault. Also, all the terrible things that happen to us personally — it’s this horrible year that is causing them.

Never mind that awful things happening are inevitable, you still see memes that say things like “2020 — Worst Year Ever” as a headline topping a list of beloved people who died that year, or natural and man-made destruction events, or the fact that little Suzy stubbed her pinky toe.

Last year, I heard more than one person mutter something along the lines of, “I didn’t think any year could be worse than 2020, but 2021 has topped it.”

I compare it to the often nostalgic references to “the good old days.” People tend to remember things from their younger years through a rose-shaded prism, when in fact, it wasn’t all that great.

And so, with the annual changing of the calendar, we put pressure on these four numerals — 2022. Surely, 2022 won’t be as awful as 2021, will it? Because 2021 was more awful than 2020, which was more awful than 2019. We need 2022 to break this streak of awful years.

Maybe, though, it’s all in the way we look at it. Terrible things do happen, every single year. Or maybe they weren’t so terrible. Or maybe wonderful things happened, too, we just don’t remember them. If we tend to see the old days through rosy shades, we tend to see the current days through black and grey.

If the good old days weren’t really all that great, perhaps the bad new days aren’t all that awful.

Case in point — a surprise holiday blizzard that leaves a dozen friends stranded in the middle of nowhere is, at first glance, a terrible thing. However, when that “middle of nowhere” is actually a fully stocked country club bar — suddenly, it’s not so terrible. I know. I was there, and we had the time of our lives.

You can blame the year for your problems if you want, I’m choosing to take Prince’s advice.

Let’s party like it’s 1999, at least until we fall asleep.

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