Jessica Sieff: Why I won’t be singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’

Published 8:53 pm Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Confession: I have not always been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve.

As a kid, the holiday was fun because is meant staying up until midnight, which always felt like a magical hour. The hour kids — or at least I — never got to stay up until midnight on a regular basis — you know, school nights and all.

But growing up, New Year’s Eve and I never really bonded.

It’s not that I didn’t try. Many a New Year’s Eve was spent in the company of family (in my younger years, with popcorn and soda) excitedly trying to keep my mom awake until midnight. Watching the fabulous people of New York City wear fabulous glasses in the shape of the 1988 and smiling so wide you’d think the new year was their birthday. I wanted to be just like them.

As I got older, I celebrated (with more adult beverages) in the company of friends.

There was the time we celebrated the New Year as it arrived in every time zone. I believe that was the millennium. I say “I believe” because the whole night is a bit of a blur. We drank a punch that seemed to have been made entirely out of every bottle of rum in Michigan and we ran out into the halls of a friend’s dorm awaiting the apocalypse. When nothing happened, I called home (two hours away) to see if the apocalypse had happened there. When I was assured it hadn’t, we finished the punch. When we finished the punch we went looking for more punch.

There was the night out when my friends and I secured a reserved table at a club I’d never been to before where everyone danced and drank too much, and we pooled all of our credit cards together to purchase a bottle of Dom Perignon. Admittedly not the brightest financial decision ever made but looking back, I don’t regret it a bit. Because it’s fun to be young and only able to afford the fancy things by pooling together a bunch of probably already nearly maxed credit cards.

So you see, I tried. But in the end, there was just no feeling between me and New Year’s Eve. There’s no full, warm feeling like that of the holidays or relaxed appreciation like the summer holidays.

Maybe it’s because earlier in the year I celebrate the new year as it is on the Jewish calendar and I’m simply all out of oomph for this one.

Part of my problem could also be a self-imposed notion that New Year’s Eve resolutions were to be taken seriously and I, neurotic and somewhat afraid of failure, simply crack under the pressure of trying to pick a goal for the year both achievable and challenging. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever held to a New Year’s resolution. To this day, I’m not sure why I think that’s so important in the first place.

To be honest, I stopped even considering resolutions a really long time ago to avoid all the mental anguish.

This year is no different. I am depleted from what has been both a fulfilling and challenging year, and one of the toughest ones for me personally. I say this because I imagine, considering some of the stories we have heard about and told this year, there are many of you out there who feel the same.

Maybe for others, the new year is a challenge in itself. Because let’s face it — nothing really changes after midnight except the display on our cell phones. So odds are, if you’re in a tough place in life, it’s going to be tough at 12:01 a.m. too. And when I talk about tough spots, I’m talking about those of you who have lost loved ones, or faced personal losses, like a divorce or a relationship or a dream unrealized. Maybe a countdown is not enough time for you to build yourself up for the incredible possibilities of greatness that await you in 2011.

I’m not trying to be “glass half-empty,” I’m just saying — I hear you.

Maybe for you, the new year is a point of renewal. A chance to start it all over again. A fresh, clean slate on which to mark your aspirations. To let troubles fall into the darkened corners of 2010 and only hopefulness reign in the light of 2011. Here, here for the new year!

The point is — however it is you celebrate this weekend, remember that whether you’re looking at the next year as a glass half-empty or half-full you’re only at half of your potential. Full is the goal.

And personally, this year, I think I’d rather let the new year arrive to the party with its wild and crazy, and often alcohol-induced haze without me, opting rather to greet it in the clarity of morning and without the hangover. Over breakfast at that, with a hot cup of coffee and a newspaper. Maybe we’ll discuss art, or wine or listen to classical music as the sun rises on the first of the year.

Here’s to doing it all to the fullest in 2011. Happy new year.

Jessica Sieff is a reporter for Leader Publications. Reach her at