HAPPY NEW YEAR

by Cathy Arden on December 30, 2013

Now comes the barrage of Happy New Year’s.  It lasts for weeks.  It starts at the end of December, even before the 31st, and sometimes lasts into February.  I start to dread running into another person well past the first of January, because that “Happy New Year!” is going to come flying at me like a frisbee.   And I’ll have to return the Happy New Year volley.   It’s endless.  There’s no way of stopping it.  It’s not as if you can say to some unsuspecting person who wishes you Happy New Year,  “I’m sorry.  I’m not saying it.  I can’t say it back to you.  It’s too late.  I’m done.”

Don’t misunderstand.   I’m not a killjoy or a party pooper or a sour puss.   I’m actually quite optimistic and I wish people well.  I wish people well all the time.  I say, “Take care,” when it’s appropriate.  I say, “Safe travels,” or, “Safe trip,” or, “Feel better,” or “Good luck.”  I say Happy New Year only on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  I understand it’s still the New Year come February.  But the psyche tires of the celebration and the mandatory New Year’s greeting.

And while we’re on the subject, I also don’t celebrate my birthday before or after the day of my birthday.  It’s that day, or it’s nothing.  I’m not one of those people who celebrate their birthday for a week, and then brags about it.  Just please don’t wish me Happy Birthday weeks prior, or weeks hence.   This isn’t an aging thing.  When I was younger, I felt the same way.  I do want my birthday to be acknowledged on my birthday.  I do appreciate presents, and I do require a birthday candle on something, dessert or otherwise, so that I can blow it out and make a wish.  That’s just plain tradition.

This year, in celebration of the New Year, I watched Mike Nichols’ mini-series version of Tony Kushner’s brilliant and beautiful ANGELS IN AMERICA.  I saw the play when it opened on Broadway in 1993.  This event was just a few months before my husband and I separated.  A year before that, right before our second child was born, my husband had told me he was gay.  I think Tony Kushner’s play must have given me courage.  It inspired me to begin writing a novel.  And a few months later, when my son turned a year old, and my daughter turned five, I found the strength to begin a new life.

I was stunned no one was talking about the approaching millennium.   I thought about it all the time.  I’d been thinking about the year 2000 since I was a kid.  Tony Kushner did justice to the approaching millennium like no other.  ANGELS IN AMERICA brought me solace, relief, courage, and oddly, joy.

We are fourteen years passed the millennium.  My children are now adults.  My novel, which I had set aside for many years, is now about ready to send off into the world.  Gay people have become equal in the eyes of the law, and even, to a larger degree than before, the American psyche.  I’ve been to the wedding of my beloved friends, Marcie and Rebecca, on the day gay marriage became legal in Boston.  Honestly, it was the wedding of the century.  I’ve celebrated births, and I’ve mourned deaths.  I’ve celebrated unions.  I hold on to joy.

Happy New Year, Tony Kushner.  Thank you for saving me.

“The fountain’s not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter, ice in the pipes. But in the summer it’s a sight to see. I want to be around to see it. I plan to be. I hope to be. 
This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. 
Bye now.
You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. 
And I bless you: More Life. 
The Great Work Begins.”
(ANGELS IN AMERICA)

Bethesda_Fountain

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa December 31, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Cathy –
Thank you for writing this. It is beautiful!
I feel the same way you do about the endless “Happy New Year” wishes. I always wondered when one was supposed to stop saying it – Feb/ March?
So I am going to wish you a Happy, Healthy, Successful, Magical and Wonderful New Year. I may have to say it again tomorrow and then I will be done.

Reply

Cathy December 31, 2013 at 5:47 PM

I love you, Lisa! Happy New Year to you as well!

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Steve Howard December 31, 2013 at 3:11 PM

I’m finding just about every time-marker to be unpleasant. I think it’s just chronic low-grade depression, but, I’m not clear on what I might be passionate about now and being reminded that time is passing leaves me feeling desperate, incompetent and lifeless. I reread that and it’s not very lively. However, it may be in keeping with the sense of despair I fall into this time of year. So, happy new year Cathy… .

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Cathy December 31, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Steve, I wish you’d come out and party with us! We will miss you! Happier days ahead! xox

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Shaya January 1, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Great blog, as always, Cathy! I look forward to the next one.
Before it is too late, Happy New Year! I hope that 2014 is a terrific year for you and yours.

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Cathy Arden January 1, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Thanks, Shaya! Same to you!

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Amy Louise Pommier January 2, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Cathy,
It’s lovely to have your thoughts on the new year and its customs contribute to the start of the new year — and the Kushner quote brought tears to my eyes. Yes, delving into experience and moving forward in life with as much courage as we can muster is what it’s all about — and you transmit that beautifully, as always!

All good wishes, for EVERY day of the year!

Amy

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Cathy January 10, 2014 at 10:41 PM

Amy, thank you so much. And the same for you in the New Year! xox

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Janice January 2, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Cathy,

My dad used to say that every day is Father’s Day so no special acknowledgment is needed–or, perhaps, we just owe it to ourselves and each other to bow to the unique potential each day holds regardless of what it’s called by tradition or practice. Your blog reminded me of his missive and how he lived his life, appreciated, loved and loving no matter the day or greeting.

By the way, loved the blog entry!

Janice

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Cathy January 10, 2014 at 10:43 PM

I love you, Janice. Thank you so much for that. And for letting me know about yet another one of your father’s wonderful traits. I remember him vividly, and with love. And your mother, too, of course. xox

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