To me, it has usually been a night of enforced revelry - which was rarely as much fun as it was "supposed" to be - followed by the vain hope that magically, things in my life (or things about me) would somehow change.
A few years ago, after a string of disastrous New Years', I shed the plans and went my own way. I let the day bring me what it would and I ended up having one of the best New Year's Eves that I have ever had. And whilst I don't expect every 'go-my-own-way' New Years to be as wonderfully surprising as that one was, it did teach me to forget the 'requirements' and let go.
I have since made sure that New Years plans that I did make were ones I would still be interested in on any other night of the year - not some out of character event - and if nothing exceptional comes along, I am happy to spend New Years at home.
But until this year, New Years has still always held that hope of change and the promise of a new beginning - which would never quite pan out. The thing I had to realise was that, just like birthdays, New Years is just another day in our lives. You don't wake up feeling different, or being different, or have any more right to expect things to be anything other than what they have always been.
Now, if New Years provides a chance for people to step back, look at their lives, and evaluate how they have been moving through it, great. Because far too often we forget about taking that step back and simply allow our lives to run away with us.
What I don't like, however, is the pressure to see immediate results should we find something in that evaluation that we don't like. January then becomes a month of forcing yourself to show a complete reversal of whatever category you have highlighted - and when have many of us really kept a New Years resolution for the full year?
I am not saying that resolutions are futile, or that we shouldn't try to take those steps to change the things in our lives we are not as happy with, merely that there shouldn't be an allocated time and corresponding pressure associated with it.
Strangely enough, this year feels like it started fresh for me four months ago. That was when things started happening, changes occurred, opportunities presented themselves, and I truly felt as though I had some sort of new beginning. None of that was caused by a focussed intent on massive change - though goodness knows I have been trying for even a modicum of that for years - it wasn't even driven by me primarily, but it happened nonetheless. And I have been cautiously running with it ever since. (I picture it in my head like an egg and spoon race - don't drop the egg!)
I finally learned that putting my faith in one day to change my life or my outlook, just wasn't going to have the effect I wanted it to. That changes happen at their own pace, and I need to be both open to them and willing to put in a bit of hard work to make them happen.
So in this season of pressures and hopes, just remember that things can change at any time - and often do whether you will it or not. Enjoy what you do like about what you have, and don't expect miracles to happen overnight.
(And now for the corny, but heartfelt, ending analogy....)
Each tomorrow is another day with endless possibilities wrapped up in it; make the most of the possibilities - and the wrapping!
I intend to.