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'Tis the Season

My doctor goes into a shockingly racist rant about the government’s being incapable of managing health care as proved by H1N1 vaccine just going to “pickaninnies in the ghetto.”

A truck turning into Broadway completely crushes the passenger side of a car stopped at a light. The driver leans on his horn.

My fellow tenants are resorting to primal screams at the handyman to express their displeasure with the endless months of construction.

We are in holiday meltdown.

As someone who is Jewish and married, I am not under Christmas pressure or anxiety over a dateless New Year’s Eve. But what is it about the end of the year that drives people to insanity?

We’re told the suicide rate is highest over the Christmas-New Year’s season-–people who can’t go on in their loneliness and unhappiness as all the rest of the world appears coupled and happy. And we assimilated Jews could well be among those numbers.

I will spare you my enumeration of the sadness of New Year’s Eve dates grimly in search of joy. Better to be alone than to experience existential loneliness in the company of others desperately seeking holiday happiness. But I will confess the loneliness of one New Year’s Eve many decades past. Home alone in my six-floor walkup, weeping on my red velvet
mermaid couch.

The phone rings. I pick it up. Not prince charming but my best friend since high school calling to wish me a happy new year. She can tell I’m in tears and counsels me: “If you’re crying you shouldn’t answer the phone.”

And so we go into another year.

Actually, there’s a lot to be said for the Jewish new year spent in soul searching and reflection. No pressure to have a date.

In fact, the shofar’s call is not so far removed from the blowing of horns welcoming in the goyishe new year. We hark back to the ancients who banged on anything at hand to scare off evil spirits as humankind passed through the liminal space between the old year and the new.

Personally, this time around I’m planning to cook, eat and drink my way into the next Gregorian decade. 2010 has a nice ring to it and I’m going to welcome it with one husband, one friend and two dogs.

There’s a lot to be said for a low-key approach to the end of one year and the start of another.

–Amy Stone