Marla Jo Fisher

Frumpy Middle-aged Mom sends greetings from holiday land this year. (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher, Orange County Register, Dec. 2018)

Yes, my friends, it’s almost New Year’s Eve. Also known as that time of stress for nearly everyone.

New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that is designed just to make you drop a ton of money you don’t have, because it’s a week after Christmas, or else feel bad that you’re not out raucously celebrating, dancing on some tabletop somewhere. After being a mom for 16 years, I’m much more likely to look around for a damp rag to clean the tabletop than to do a tango on top of it.

If you’re out partying, you feel stressed about the crazy drunken drivers on your way home. They don’t call it “amateur night” for nothing. Or whether your Uber will show up to drive you home.

Or because you just spent $100 per person on this stupid party package that’s not only lame, but lame with too few bartenders, so you can’t even get happy enough to forget how much money you wasted.

If you spent a fortune on a trip for an amazing New Year’s Eve at New York’s Times Square, in London, Las Vegas or Disneyland, you’re stressed because you’re squashed in with so many people, you’re not entirely sure you’ll be able to find a bathroom when you need one. Or even if there is such a thing, no matter how low your standards become. My recommendation is to either douse yourself with an entire bottle of dollar store cologne before you go, or forget to shower for a few days until you’re really, really fragrant. Then, folks will give you a wide berth and you’ll have room to breathe.

I forswore New Year’s Eve celebrations decades ago, when I had the pleasurable job of being the lead reporter covering the annual Tournament of Roses festivities in Pasadena. This meant that I had to go to bed at 9 p.m. so I could rise at 4 a.m. in order to be in my grandstand seat for the parade before it started at 8:05 a.m. If you’ve ever been stuck in Rose Parade traffic, you’ll understand why I had to arrive so early.

It was a fun assignment — and tons more fun than the people assigned to walk behind the horses and clean up their manure — but since the Rose Parade was the most important thing that happened in Pasadena each year, with thousands of people working behind the scenes to make it happen, it was more stressful than you might think.

I really, really needed a good night’s sleep beforehand, which was complicated by the fact that I lived in a really tough neighborhood in Los Angeles where people shot off so many guns at midnight that it sounded like the attack on Pearl Harbor.

One year, the gun explosions kept me awake and I ended up oversleeping, causing me to get stuck in horrendous freeway traffic trying to make it to my newspaper’s parking lot in time for the start of the parade. Don’t tell my kids, but I ended up driving on the shoulder for at least a mile, heart racing that I was going to get a ticket. Fortunately, I made it just in time without meeting any cops.

After that assignment, I was just done with the whole New Year’s Eve experience. And I must say I haven’t missed it one bit. Though I do feel slightly pathetic sitting home in my pajamas watching the New York television feed that rings in the new year at 9 p.m. and then going to bed. On the plus side, I can have as many cocktails as I like, and I’m not paying $17 each for them.

This year, I’ll be boarding a plane for Delhi, India on Dec. 31, to take a tour of Northern India and try to recreate the famous photo of a lonely Princess Di in front of the Taj Mahal. Stay tuned. I’ll tell you how it turns out.

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