We have developed such expectations about the holidays (What are you doing New Year's Eve?) at the end of the year that some people have anxiety attacks about making things come out just right. And others dread the holidays because they have to be with people (usually family) whose company they do not cherish.
I carried my childhood traditions/expectations long after my childhood had passed. We had wonderful Christmases at our house and I thought I needed to duplicate those rituals when I had my own family, even when my family was two people--my son and I. It felt like there should be more people involved--I grew up in a family of six--but my son had never known anything else and he loved the rituals we were developing, so I loved them too. We both remember that time fondly, but we're not so attached to it that we make any effort to replicate it.
My New Year's eve memories have not been as good as the Christmas ones. The best were staying up with my son and watching the ball drop in New York. The one that was most painful and that helped me let go of the New Year's Eve fantasy was the year I was eight months pregnant and barely able to move. The man with whom I was having a passionate love affair, and who said he loved me, the father of my child, left me home alone and went to a New Year's Eve party. He came home unapologetically early the next morning.
In the years I've been an independent woman I've done as I pleased during the holidays--sometimes resting from a demanding job then dining with friends. Or, at other times cooking and inviting people over. The common denominator, however, was that I felt compelled to do something special for that period between December 24 and January 1.
This year I decided to let go of the emotional investment I've had in this holiday period since I was a child and let the "special" thing be pampering myself by doing what I most enjoy. So, I'm spending the week writing, reading, and writing some more. I've listened to my favorite music, some of it Christmas music, and had bubble baths with candles. It is a lovely experience. I may do it again, or not.