By Anne T. Donahue
This year, we will be celebrating the end of a hellscape while careening into the updated version of whatever we’ve already been through. We will all be at home, with snacks, and surrounded only by the people and pets we live with. Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg will not make out on television in the middle of a crowded Times Square, and I will not go to Red Lobster with a single soul (simply because Red Lobster, like all restaurants, are closed for dining).
But none of this means New Year’s has to be bad. Frankly, I hate New Year’s as a rule, and in that hatred I’ve managed to breed the makings of a perfect quarantined countdown. Is it exciting? Absolutely not, but if you’re craving excitement at this stage of 2020, I cannot help you and neither can anybody else. This year, we enter the new one with calmness in our hearts and reasonable bedtimes. Time isn’t real, but delicious snacks are. Welcome, 2021.
Choose snacks wisely
And I do mean wisely. There is no reason to eat anything healthy unless you genuinely hate Cheetos and chips and the idea of eating them makes you feel ill. All snack choices should be terrific. No filler. Nothing “good enough.” On this night, we banish 365 days of terrible memories by gorging ourselves on only the finest treats. To cut corners now would be egregious. This is not the time to settle for saltines.
Watch something you’re guaranteed to like or at least tolerate
For years, my friends and I would go to the movies on NYE to ensure we wouldn’t have to deal with counting down or caring about the passage of time. And for a few of those years, we chose movies we knew we’d enjoy. We watched Sherlock Holmes. Young Adult. Another movie I can’t remember at all. But then came the years that we took chances: Black Swan. Doubt. Films that left you wondering where it all went wrong as you stared at your watch, realizing this was the way your year would begin.
Which leads me to my overall point: watch only what you know you’ll enjoy. Soak up the Housewives. Plunge into Baking Show. Watch all of Unsolved Mysteries and make peace with never knowing what it means to rest. Tonight is not the night for experimentation. That’s what New Year’s Day is for. That, and eating the remaining snacks for breakfast.
Assume nothing, but especially anything good
I’m not a pessimist, I promise. But every year I decide to condemn the old and ring in the new, I am immediately confronted by the reality that everything aside from us doesn’t care what day or year it is – because if something’s going to happen, it’s happening, baby.
So to this I say, embrace passivity. Yes, 2021 has arrived, but we don’t know it. It’s a stranger to us. Why should we trust this year, a year that has shown nothing but endless potential to let us down like its predecessor? This year is a blank slate, but also full of potential to make us its enemies. So I suggest looking at it exactly that way: stare the new year in the face. Acknowledge its existence. And then, when that countdown’s over, you go right back to doing exactly what you were up to minutes before to show it how little you care. Prove why we should like you, 2021. Prove why I should remove my eyes from my Nintendo Switch and risk Super Mario’s death to make a list of resolutions I will never keep.
Do not make resolutions
Resolutions? In this economy? Well I never, and will never.
But, yes: do absolutely acknowledge that you made it through to the other side
At this point, I trust no one and nothing. And frankly, neither should you. But we can trust this: that we made it. That when the calendar changes from 2020 to 2021, we can say to everyone who will listen (and whom we force to listen) that we lived through one of the worst years in modern history, and will proceed to scream-tell the tale.
Does this mean that we will thrive? That 2021 will be a cake-walk compared to the misery marathon of the last 52 weeks? No. Never. (I just told you to trust nothing.) But it means that we outlived and outlasted long enough to watch 2020 disappear and become history, instead of it being an example of “living history” — a.k.a. a phrase I hate and will use only to make a very dramatic point like the one I’m making here. It is over. It is done. We don’t have to face it anymore.
2021, on the other hand? Side-eye it mercilessly while eating your snacks and watching your shoes, and then, when you make it to bed at an early, wonderful hour, make direct eye contact and say, “I’ll be watching you.”
Happy New Year!