New Year's Eve is a horrible guest. It slouches in a week after Christmas - which is much more fun, what with the wrapped presents and the eggnog - and tries to get us all to drink and stay up late.
I have never, ever gotten into the whole party-like-it's-1999 thing. I went from being
a little kid and wanting to stay up late, to being middling-aged and wishing midnight would just get here already, so I can brush my teeth and crawl between the sheets. In between, I think I managed to fit about a year and a half of "being young," during which I expressed my dislike for crowds and loud noises by staying home on New Year's.
The worst thing about New Year's is that it falls in the middle of winter. Why? Why must New Year's arrive when the world is dark and coated in dirty snow?
We are an advanced civilization. We can launch apes into space in high tech spam cans. We can kill ourselves by crashing cars so sophisticated they can park themselves. We can create highly energetic streams of photons and turn them into toys to amuse the cat. Can we not simply move New Year's?
I say we plunk that holiday down in the summer. If we need to have some sort of symbolic date, let's dump it on the summer solstice. Up here, north of the 49th parallel, this will have a couple of advantages.
Instead of being just a week and a half after the longest night of the year, New Year's Eve will be the shortest night of the year. That means the drunks will have some natural light so they can find their car keys and avoid puddles of vomit.
I'm sure the RCMP would appreciate the change, as it will mean that pulling over idiot inebriated drivers will generally take place on a warm summer evening, and they will not be standing ankle-deep in freezing rainwater.
It would also put two long weekends within spitting distance of each other, considering how close the summer solstice is to Canada Day.
If you'd rather keep the summer free for flag flying and fireworks, we could drop New Year's somewhere else.
We could leave it until February or early March, to give everyone a bit more time to recover from the annual Christmas spending spree. That would also allow it to substitute for the upcoming "Family Day" holiday. Which should clearly be put back in January, so we can have a day off with no expectation of staying up late. We could also toss it into the fall, somewhere between Labour Day and Remembrance Day.
Halloween already involves a lot of parties, so why not combine the two? It also neatly splits the year at the turning of a month.
Or we could ditch such restrictive concepts as "years" and "numbers."
After all, our attempts to count out a new year every time our planet circles its middling G-type star is a bit of hubris, isn't it?
For billions of years before we existed, our planet was spinning around the sun. It survived asteroid impacts, cooled and coughed out an atmosphere, and saw life swim and crawl out of the ooze and evolve into myriad forms.
The world has spun a bit slower every century, and it has done it without any intervention from us.
Our earliest ancestors looked up and saw the stars spin by at night, watched the sun rise again, and followed the shadows it left as they lengthened and shortened. They slowly worked out the cycle - and foolishly thought that, by naming days and years and decades and centuries, they were making for themselves a significant place in time.
The world will count its own years without us, long after we're gone.