Humming Along To The Tunes Of Nostalgia On New Year’s Eve

This is a heartfelt letter to those who find the holiday season overwhelming.

Published On Dec 30, 2022 | Updated On Feb 22, 2024

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Whether you love it or loathe it, New Year’s Eve is often considered the biggest celebration(or hyped?) of the year. The mere thought of holiday traditions brings smiles to most people’s faces and elicits feelings of sweet anticipation and nostalgia. It’s always been the time of year I’ve looked forward to the most. But back then I was a kid and New Year’s Eve fascinated me.

It was a night when grown-ups dressed up, drank fancy cocktails and glided across ballroom floors. The cool adults partied well past midnight and didn’t even get in trouble for it. Granted, Indian parents only went out a time or two, but I have seen the old, classic holiday movies.

From sitting comfortably next to a bonfire all day to making handmade cards for friends and families, there was a sense of camaraderie and closeness back then. Traditionally, the 31st was also spent snuggling up in a blanket watching award shows on television, which was new year's specials. With people going to clubs and fancy restaurants to ring in the new year, it has become a nucleated affair. For some reason, those innocent winter holidays felt a lot more liberating. It was a different story then.  

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But what are we even celebrating on New Year’s Eve now – an arbitrary hour on an arbitrary calendar? It's not unusual to feel like a sad sack of coal or be a couch potato again during the holidays. Between the crowds and tundra-like weather (not to mention the short window of sunlight), it’s a wonder any of us can keep it together. Or even, having the common misperception that everyone else is having a great time but me, is enough to send us off balance.

New Year’s Eve comes with the association of a fresh start that can cause people to start feeling anxious about change on the horizon. Of course, having unrealistic expectations is one major reason to feel down during the dark winter months. Not only are there high expectations around that night, but there also exists the added expectation of feeling happy, having fun and connecting with others. Gathering with loved ones around a turkey or a tree is great, but have you come across the people who shout, “Woohoo!”? It’s like the partiers are trying to convince themselves (and everyone around them) that they are having fun, but even they don’t believe it.  

Despite the cliche, it rings true that those who expect too much are often disappointed. And in the course of time, I have found that if you have low expectations for the evening, you'll probably exceed them, which will positively affect your overall enjoyment and happiness.

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Even though I am just in my mid-20s, I think I have given up on embracing the holiday spirit. The end-of-year period can generate additional pressures which aren’t present during the rest of the year. Also, movies (looking at you, rom-coms) sold me a bill of expectations. I was looking for ‘The Great Gatsby’ in life.

You see, time can fly so fast that it appears to us, upon reflection, like we are slipping away. Whether we're scrolling through Facebook looking at the photos of old friends or feeling moved as we age, we may stop and say, "Where did the time go?" It's a powerful, sobering revelation. But it wasn't like this when we were children, was it? I remember how each year, broken into school semesters, holidays and summer vacations, seemed to pass slowly, at a kind of diligent down-tempo pace so that every experience, no matter how mundane, could be fully processed.

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In retrospect, as a kid in the '90s, partying on New Year's Eve used to be an alien concept. And sometimes, we got to accept that it really is just another night. Spend the evening doing things you'd normally do and ignore the hype surrounding the holiday, maybe? Or consider ordering take-out and enjoying a movie? It's okay not to celebrate if you don't feel like it.

Still, if nothing at all helps, then curl up in your blanket like a burrito and play ‘Scars To Your Beautiful’ by Alessia Cara. Or even better, a party of one with Doja Cat’s music is always a good idea. 


Photo: Shutterstock; giphy

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