What time is it now?

I hate to sound like a curmudgeon but I don’t get New Year’s Eve and I’m confident I’m not alone on this one.

I saw actress Jessica Biel on the British talk show “Graham Norton” recently and she said she doesn’t get excited about New Year’s Eve anymore because it’s always disappointing.

If the parties Jessica Biel is invited to are crap what hope do the rest of us have?

At first I thought I could relate to her but then realized I can’t. I’ve never been to a party with Jessica Biel so this is all speculation, but I bet there’s live music at the parties she goes to. And I bet the music isn’t the hosts’ sugar-wound six-year-old playing a plastic saxophone.

I bet it’s not a potluck affair either. You know, the ones where none of the food should ever be eaten together—samosas, meatballs and ambrosia salad, for example. And a lot of the food is sitting in liquid in a sweaty-lidded crockpot.

I bet the parties she goes to are catered and waiters wander around with all kinds of fresh and delectable nibblies. Maybe the disappointing part if you’re a Hollywood actress is that you can’t eat more than one oeurs d’oeuvres if you ever want to work again.

I’m not a Hollywood actress so I could eat multiple mini crab cakes and kebabs, but I can’t get in the door. What a waste.

The best New Year’s Eve Party I can vaguely recall was when I was a teenager. It was a house party and I got drunk enough that I could fall down the stairs on my arse and neither feel a thing nor comprehend how I got to the bottom of the stairs so quickly. One minute I was at the top of the stairs, the next minute I was perched on the bottom step with no clue how I got there. I was totally amazed.  I remember wanting to chat about it with anyone who walked by.

When I was a kid New Year’s meant trying to stay awake. I’m starting to head back in that direction. It also meant getting the year wrong at the top of my school work for about two weeks. As a young adult it meant getting the year wrong on rent cheques. I haven’t written any cheques in  years.

Now the only time I need to be sure of the date is when I’m in the grocery store buying bread or yogurt.

Don’t get me wrong, I like having a holiday a week after Christmas but I don’t like the pressure to have a good time. It takes all the fun out of it. Especially when Facebook is full of pictures of smiling people dressed up and wearing tiaras with the year bedazzled on their heads. Clearly they’re having the time of their lives in that moment when the flash goes off.

I’ve been to the parties at bars that you buy tickets for. They come with some lame buffet and there’s never enough food. The people at the end of the line get the crusty-edge bits of mashed potatoes and a stringy end-piece of beef that has been rejected by the 150 people in front of them in line.

It feels like everyone is trying way too hard. The New Year’s celebrations on TV in New York and Ottawa just look contrived. Everyone stands around until the camera hits them and they start yelling and waving their arms around. It always looks really cold too.

When the countdown is done on this side of the world and we move into a new year Donald Trump will still be president of the United States, millions of refugees will still huddle in appalling conditions in camps around the world as they escape conflict, and the threat of more war and cruelty will continue to loom. A clock ticking down will do nothing to change any of that.  It’s not magic.

Still, a new year provides us with opportunities to reflect on our lives and the way we live them. Opportunities that perhaps aren’t taken in June.  The promise of something new inspires hope for a fresh start and the dare to dream. At the very least, it’s an opportunity to leave behind the heartaches of the past year and do better and enjoy all the love, prosperity and peace we can find.

Never is a minute so heady as the 60 seconds that bridge one year to the next. We’re all waiting for the ball to drop. But how we bid farewell to 2017 has no impact on the way 2018 will treat us or how we treat each other.

Whether you welcome the new year holding a plastic plate in a buffet line, standing in the cold and waving at a TV camera, sitting on a couch sipping wine and wondering who did Jenny McCarthy’s hair, or simply tucked into bed, I hope you have big plans for the future.  Even if New Year’s Eve turns out to be the best night of your life, I wish you a year that is far  more satisfying.