Posted by: Corri van de Stege | December 31, 2008

On New Year’s Eve – 31 December 2008.

A hint of expectation, a sense of loss, mixed feelings of forebodings and exhilaration.  What is it about New Year’s Eve that makes it such a strangely forlorn day?  It’s a day you want to linger in, because pretty soon there will be the loss of something, as yet undefined.  At the same time there is that sense of wanting to get through it, hurry it along, throw out the old with the pop of the cork at midnight to banish unfinished business, the things left undone, the books not read, the stories not written, the social contacts not maintained, the unfinished conversations, the jobs done in a hurry, the leisure time not taken, the fretting, the rush, the stress.  Let it all be gone.  A new year, completely empty, is waiting patiently, like an empty notebook to be filled.  It will be up to us to fill this one (again) – only this time I will do it better, the words will be more perfect, the sentences will be more poetical, the paragraphs just right, the images conjured up immaculate, the stories just so… 

Of course, already I know that they will not be any of this, but at least I’ve got another chance, I can try again with this empty open notebook that has the heading 2009.

New year’s intentions – I don’t really believe in them, nevertheless, I’m going to try again.  Despite the gloomy forecasts for what 2009 will bring, I will start my new notebook and put pen to paper, reflect on the books I read, search for the meanings of words, chat on line, blog, and…..    etc.   But what I intend to do first and foremost is to try and get back to the beginnings.  I will attempt to write more commentary on what I see and hear, the world around me and connect with my stories. 

On New Year’s Eve, as children, we used to wander through the day, lost, full of expectations.  But then, perhaps it was only me who experienced the day that way.  For me, the midnight fireworks brought the long wait and the endless evening to a satisfying crescendo, the glitter in the sky, the sound of the rockets, the darkness and the cold and everywhere and everything lit up by the streaks of yellow, red and white fire across the night sky.  Old demons fled in haste, chased away by the loudness of this welcome to the new year and the stars and sparks, the noise, the thrill of expectations.  Of what?   Then, inevitably, there was the falling back to earth, the coldness, the lights dying in the sky, and then to bed.   This would be followed by the tiredness on New Year’s Day when we would go outside; the day, as I remember it, was usually  grey and wet and cold, and we hoped that we would find unexploded fireworks.   One of my brothers would then mount the dangerous rocket or star, because now wick-less, in a glass bottle and try to set it off with a forbidden lighter or some matches stolen from the kitchen drawer.   Strange to think now that we never really had an accident, no one expected that anything would go wrong, we were far too frightened by the threatening warnings not to touch these unexploded bringers of fun and perdition and therefore we would run away from the thing, once lit, as fast as we could, shrieking with excitement and fear.  Usually, the result would only be a disappointing thud, or a pfffffff that would not leave the bottle neck.  Overnight dampness had incapacitated its sparkle…

All that is long ago now, the fireworks routine was kept alive with my own children, who seemed much less impressed and for a while it was done away with, to be revived again when offspring were older and enjoyed the midnight fooling around with a glass of bubble in one hand and a lighter in another, lighting the wicks of large rockets  that would explode in thundering succession, brighter and noisier than any ever available in my own childhood. 

And this New Year’s Eve?  After a hectic and house-full of christmas we’ll  be quietly curling up with a glass of something on the sofa and watching Jools Holland and his build up to Hogmanay or some such Scottish celebration ….  Soon followed by bed and blissful sleep; just so that we will be able to start the New Year as intended: reading and writing.  And then, of course, there will be the same old work routine beckoning again on the second of January…

I wish you all a happy and bookish new year and look forward to meeting you regularly.

In the spirit of this blog I leave you with John Clare’s poetic approach.  And if you follow the link, there are more to enjoy on Poets.org:

The Old Year – by John Clare  
 
 
The Old Year's gone away
     To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
     Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
     In either shade or sun:
The last year he'd a neighbour's face,
     In this he's known by none.

All nothing everywhere:
     Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they're here
     And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
     In every cot and hall--
A guest to every heart's desire,
     And now he's nought at all.

Old papers thrown away,
     Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
     Are things identified;
But time once torn away
     No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year's Day
     Left the Old Year lost to all.


Responses

  1. This was just beautiful, really, the exact combination of melacholy and hope that I always feel myself in New Years Eve. I feel as if you were inside my head 🙂

    Here’s hoping we fill our new notebooks with lots of wonderful, insightful, exciting things!

  2. Becca: thank you for a lovely comment. Yes, I drink to our joint notebooks – keep your posts coming! Cheers.


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