No one actually celebrates New Year’s Eve itself. Nor should they.
It’s pretty pointless: a day spent preparing for a few hours spent waiting for midnight. A day not of what is or what was but what’s to come.
The reason I’ve always been out on December 31 is because my birthday is January 1. Who gets excited about the day before their birthday? To me, it’s contrived, forced revelry, though I’ll admit my wife and I have hosted friends for some lovely evenings the past few New Year’s Eves. I still don’t get too excited just because the calendar is going to change.
This year, though, December 31 is worth celebrating. Because 2017 has been hell, and, praise the Lord, it now is over.
What made 2017 so awful?
Men, for starters. (It’s always men.)
It was not even three months ago that the New York Times published its shocking story detailing Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein was just the first monster in what has since been a ceaseless horror story of sexual misconduct allegations coming to light. House of Cards star Kevin Spacey, fired. Comedian Louis C.K. will “step back” for a time. Matt Lauer, formerly the highest paid anchor on TV, gone. In D.C., so far, Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken. And in the food world, it wasn’t just high-profile chefs John Besh and Mario Batali who had to answer for their behavior. Here, One Off Hospitality Group fired an executive chef and a general manager following an incident in its restaurants.
Shitty men being held responsible for their grotesque behavior is good, but it doesn’t remedy the damage that’s been done to the dignity and ambition and careers of many women.
That said, we could only hope for the same type of reactive measures on the nation’s gun violence epidemic. The Weinstein story published just three days after a gunman killed 58 and injured 546 at a concert in Las Vegas. People quickly forgot about it, and bump stocks, the gun modification that allows for such a high level of carnage, remain legal. A month later, a shooter killed 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Relatedly, Washington could not be more ineffective or embarrassing for both sides of the aisle. The Democrats were unable to capitalize on anti-Trump sentiment, and the GOP barely passed any consequential legislation despite ruling all three branches of the government. (Its main accomplishment, the recently passed tax bill, is even less popular than previous tax hikes.) Meanwhile, kids remain uninsured, and the president might threaten nuclear war before I finish brewing a Chemex each morning.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
We couldn’t count on local sports to distract us too much, either.
I mean, have you watched the Bulls?!?
Recent win streak aside, the most notable part of the season was Bobby Portis literally punching Nikola Mirotic in the face and breaking his jaw. Portis was suspended eight games; Mirotic didn’t make his debut till early December. At least, at this writing, they’re no longer in last.
The Bulls just became the first team in NBA history to follow up a 10-game losing streak or longer with a winning streak of 5 games or more, according to @EliasSports.
— Chris Herring (@Herring_NBA) December 16, 2017
Speaking of last place … woo boy, the Bears! They spent the spring stockpiling quarterbacks—to the tune of $45 million and a couple draft picks. As for this fall, well, after coach John Fox said No. 2 pick Mitchell Trubisky just had his best game, he threw three interceptions, and they lost. (Disclosure: This writer is a Minnesota Vikings fan.)
The Cubs failed to repeat as World Series Champions (that doesn’t actually sound too bad). The White Sox’s first season at Guaranteed Rate field was insignificant.
Property taxes are going up. Again. Two hundred million dollars, under the guise of a sweetened-beverage tax, came and went. Commutes got worse. If you thought Washington looked ugly this year, you probably weren't watching Springfield.
Christ, we got an excellent new Star Wars movie, and people are complaining about it.
But it all soon will be over.
We don’t yet know what fresh hell 2018 will bring, but, thank goodness, 2017 will soon be in the past.
Sunday, December 31, raise a glass and bid good riddance to a terrible year.