“No New Year’s Eve party? I’m de­lighted!”

Our Fab­u­lous ColuM­NIst sHarEs tHE rEal sE­CrEt to a HaPPy NEW yEar

Woman & Home - - Editor’s Letter -

says al­li­son Pear­son

One of life’s best-kept se­crets is that New Year’s Eve is hell. shhh! I know you’re not sup­posed to say so. I know you’re meant to pre­tend you’re go­ing some­where fab­u­lous in a feather boa and it will be fun, fun, fun, dar­ling, in­stead of sit­ting in front of the tV watch­ing fire­works in syd­ney and scots­men do­ing mys­te­ri­ous things with coal.

but, hon­estly, I hate New year’s Eve. all that en­forced jol­lity, the shouty count­ing down to mid­night, the pre­tence that the pass­ing of time is a happy thing when ac­tu­ally it’s a bit sad; the gulp­ing down of cheap fizz, which you know will turn your poor head into a clang­ing steel­works by the morn­ing. Even singing Auld Lang Syne, pre­tend­ing you un­der­stand the words, cross­ing hands and wag­gling your el­bows up and down like a funky chicken with peo­ple you’ve only just met, and hope never to see again.

the New year’s Eve party has one ob­vi­ous draw­back. at a nor­mal party, you can make your ex­cuses around

11 – “Mustn’t miss our train!” “Got to get back for the dog!” – but at New year you’re trapped un­til at least 12.20am. the good booze will have run out long ago, as will the canapés, so, in mount­ing des­per­a­tion, you find your­self glug­ging luke­warm garage Chardon­nay out of a plas­tic cup and fin­ish­ing up the twiglets dust with a licked finger. Maybe that’s just me.

If you’re the des­ig­nated driver, then God help you. there you are, fright­en­ingly sober in a churn­ing sea of rev­ellers, most of them over­e­mo­tional be­cause they re­alise an­other year has passed and they’re still roughly the same weight, they want a divorce and this night, of all the 365 nights, is sup­posed to be “the best party ever”. so how come they feel bored and lonely? It’s too much for one lit­tle night to bear, it re­ally is.

as if all of the above weren’t bad enough, chances are you will have con­sumed more carbs in De­cem­ber than in the other 11 months put to­gether. Mince pies, roast pota­toes, left­overs dipped in mayo (can’t let them go to waste, can you? ter­ri­bly bad for the en­vi­ron­ment). thanks to this lack of self-con­trol, when the time comes to put on your gor­geous New year’s Eve lace frock, the ef­fect may be less an­gelina Jolie, more Miss Piggy. Hell hath no fury like a woman 7lb over­weight who is try­ing to do up a side zip at 8.06pm on 31 De­cem­ber. be­lieve me, I have been that fran­tic fe­male.

one New year, I in­vested in some in­dus­trial-strength con­trol pants specif­i­cally to re­dis­tribute the Christ­mas flab. the ef­fect was mirac­u­lous. My spare tyre was forced up sev­eral inches to cre­ate a sen­sa­tional cleav­age, leav­ing be­hind a pleas­ingly dainty waist. thoughts that I could give the hour­glass Kim Kar­dashian a run for her money lasted un­til Him­self had to drive me to a&E with what I as­sumed was a heart at­tack. a ha­rassed ju­nior doc­tor pointed out rather wearily that acute, ex­cru­ci­at­ing in­di­ges­tion is a well-known side-ef­fect of wear­ing a corset. I ended up toast­ing the ar­rival of 2008 with a bucket of antacid. Never again.

It’s FoMo – fear of miss­ing out – that makes New year’s Eve so stress­ful.

When you’re young, the idea of spend­ing 31 De­cem­ber qui­etly at home with fam­ily or friends is hor­ri­fy­ing. long ago, I re­mem­ber be­ing in trafal­gar square with my then boyfriend. We were car­ried along on a swirling sea of strangers count­ing down the sec­onds to 1982. It was ex­hil­a­rat­ing and I loved it. but time feels dif­fer­ent – in­fi­nite – when you’re in your twen­ties with your whole life ahead of you.

Now, in my fifties, I take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. the past 12 months have been tough with more than their fair share of ups and downs, of ill­ness and heart­break. there were times, I’ll ad­mit, when I won­dered how I was go­ing to get through it. as 2018 swings on its hinges,

I will walk through the door into next year with a small group of peo­ple that I love, peo­ple who were there for me as I am for them. that’s one of the best things about age­ing. you can’t have old friends when you’re young, can you?

I no longer suf­fer from FoMo, thank good­ness. If Him­self and I are not in­vited to a New year’s Eve party, I’m de­lighted. at least it means I don’t have to come up with an ex­cuse for turn­ing it down. “Hope smiles from the thresh­old of the year to come, whis­per­ing, ‘It will be hap­pier’,” the poet ten­nyson said. Very true. I will be cross­ing that thresh­old in comfy leisurewear not spanx, re­lax­ing with loved ones in­stead of par­ty­ing with strangers and nary a feather boa in sight. Now, that’s what I call a Happy New year. w&h

That’s one of the best things about age­ing. You can’t have old friends when you’re young, can you?

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