Thanksgiving, Part II (aka Happy New Year!)

Call me the exception, but I absolutely love New Year’s Eve.

For the 20th consecutive year, I didn’t travel anywhere exotic to celebrate. I didn’t dance the night away. Nothing crazy occurred and nobody from Hollywood has called asking for the rights to make a movie about my evening. This year, I didn’t even drink, save for a sip of champagne at midnight. 

Sound like fun?

Actually, it was. Before I get into why, here’s a little context.

This year’s celebration included a conversation with a friend about why he hated New Year’s Eve. It never lives up to his expectations. He has some challenges coming up in 2013 that he isn’t looking forward to. A bad memory from an NYE past still haunts him.

Sound familiar?

I don’t know why New Year’s Eve is such an important night to us. It has about as much impact as the Mayan’s supposed prediction that the world was ending a few weeks back, yet for many people a successful one means your upcoming year will be fantastic; a bad night could indicate 365 more to come.

I won’t act like I’ve never been guilty of this. I carried the great expectations for years, but somewhere along the way I decided to re-frame the evening in my mind. For whatever it is worth to you, here is how I celebrate New Year’s Eve.

1. Think of everything that I loved about the ending year. Sort of like a second Thanksgiving, I take some time to appreciate what went well in my life along with the people and experiences that I am grateful for, including family, friends, health and in my case, adventure.

2. Think about what didn’t go well and how I can change in the upcoming year. Many failures are just opportunities to learn how to do things better. I don’t wear myself out with this task, but I do take some time to realize the year wasn’t perfect and I can do better.

3. Celebrate with family and friends, wherever that may be. I can recall spending one NYE in a car with my two best friends from high school driving around trying to find a party. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the fact that I was with my two favorite people so it didn’t matter where we were. I don’t make that mistake today. I want to celebrate with the people I’m excited to start the new year with regardless of what we do.

4. Set some SMART goals for the new year. I refuse to call these resolutions because of the stigma of failure, but I want to have some kind of plan in place for the next 12 months. If you’re not sure what a SMART goal is, look it up.

5. Be safe. Boy, I’ve made some stupid choices on New Year’s Eve. Just the thought that I may have ended my life or the life of someone else gives me pause some 20 years later. Our “ultimate party” culture is extremely dangerous. Learn to rise above it.

That’s about it. Believe it or not, these criteria have resulted in at least a decade of wonderful New Year’s Eves, including the one celebrated a few days ago. I’m excited about 2013, and I hope you are too.

Happy New Year!

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About Matt DeMargel

Public Relations Flack, Health-Conscious Cyclist, Personal Finance Nerd, Global Wanderer and slightly deranged fan of St. Louis and Mizzou Sports. I only write when I have something to say, but I talk constantly!
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