Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In a Pickle

I consider performing holiday rituals to be a key element of my witchiness. However, I think New Year's is possibly my least favorite holiday.

Don't get me wrong - I have had some very nice New Year's celebrations. I went to a lovely formal party at the turn of the millennium. A few years ago, I rented a great big beach house with a coven of friends. And I may have had or attended an okay party or two. But in general, there is just something off about the holiday of New Year's. ...

First of all, December 31 is a dumb time to flip the calendar. Most other cultures celebrate the new year at a more logical time when the sun and/or moon is ending or beginning a cycle, like at a solstice or equinox.

Second, since our New Year falls a week after Christmas, it's like an afterthought. Significant days deserve a little elbow room - time in between for plans and preparations. August would be a much better time; nothing else goes on in August.

Third, late December is too cold to want to do anything outdoors, and you can't fly to a warm a climate because everybody and their brother are also flying because of Christmas, so air travel is a nightmare to be avoided at all cost.

But, you know, you feel like you OUGHT to celebrate New Year's SOMEhow. So, what to do?

Who really wants to go stand around for hours outside in the freezing cold with thousands of other drunk people, waiting for an object to drop from above or someone to vomit on you, whichever comes first? I want to know where all those people at Times Square pee. Even if you can find a port-a-potty, have you ever tried to pee in one of those things while wearing a giant down coat and a bunch of other extra layers? Well, I have. In Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day. They don't exactly put hooks and shelves in port-a-potties, and even if they did, you wouldn't want to let anything of yours actually touch them.

My friends never seem to know what they're going to do for New Year's, but whenever I have tried to throw a party, hardly anyone shows up because they are either out of town or they don't want to drive with all the cops or drunk drivers.

If you try to go out to a bar, it seems most of the bars charge a huge cover price so that they can provide noisemakers and cheap champagne at midnight. Once you pay it and get inside to find that the place is dull and dead, you can't really hop to the next bar because you don't want to pay another huge cover.

I've considered creating my own New Year tradition. It seems like the beginning of a new era should involve some sort of cleaning and organizing ritual -- perhaps a rejuvenation at a spa? But spas and a lot of other businesses simply aren't open on New Year's.

In the past, I enjoyed going to a hockey game on New Year's Eve. Even though my team tended to lose, at least I was out among people, and the arena would show Times Square on the Jumbotron and drop a big puck from the rafters. Alas, with the NHL lockout, there is no hockey this year.

So, yet again, this New Year's left me in a pickle about how to celebrate. --Which brings me to the reason for my totally tubular choice of ear charms to mark the occasion.

Last night, I wore the pictured pickle earrings to Mt. Olive, NC, where at the corner of Cucumber and Vine, at the stroke of midnight (Greenwich Mean Time, which is 7pm Eastern), I and a couple thousand other whackjobs watched a three-foot-long, lighted pickle descend down the company flagpole at the Mt. Olive Pickle Company. Parking was free and easy; a string bland played the Pickle Polka; the company gave away free hot chocolate, cider, and of course pickles; and the whole thing was over in five minutes, as promised. I didn't even need a port-a-john!

What's more, unlike Jenny McCarthy, at least Ollie the guy in the pickle suit understood that his role walking around having his picture taken was best performed without opening his mouth.

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