News & Opinion


Why Jennifer Lawrence’s new year’s humbug is so right

The Daily Beast

December 30, 2015

Thank you, Jennifer Lawrence. Thank you for saying what any sane and reasonable person knows. There is only one thing to do come New Year’s Eve. Stay in. Possibly stay sober. Go to bed before midnight.

If you must do something, do something you will enjoy, not force yourself to enjoy—or endure.

“I really hate it,” Lawrence tells British chat show host Graham Norton in a show to be broadcast on the dreaded evening itself.

“I’ve never had a good one,” Lawrence said.

“Everyone’s chasing a good time, and it’s always a disappointment. I plan on doing nothing and then if something lands in my lap… but I always end up drunk and disappointed.”

Drunk and Disappointed should be the title of her memoir, Lawrence apparently adds.

As ever, she speaks sense, and there should be no shame in being a New Year’s refusenik.

In New York, the crowds have been amassing since Christmas; indeed the streets have become heaving mini-oceans of morons who should never be let loose in cities; idiots who stop suddenly, who walk in massed ranks of 10 abreast, people who have no idea how to walk in a city.

It is not only New York’s tense arteries that get even more clogged with those gathering for the Times Square ball-drop, or being in the same city as the Times Square ball-drop.

Many of our heads get fogged up by the New Year. As Lawrence intimates, the sense of expectation it builds sweeps many up in its path. Suddenly being in the “right place” with the right person at midnight becomes paramount. You have to be seen to be attempting to have the best time at midnight, because midnight marks a new year.

It is the first lick of the stamp for the next 365 days. It’s a time when we are supposed to shut the door on past failures or losses, to sideline any pain accrued, and wipe a slate clean.

The New Year is most present in the “resolutions” we make to be better, healthier people. And before we embark on those, it is—as Lawrence said—present in the last hurrah of the evening itself, and that grim fixation on being our best and sparkliest.

But the division of Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 is arbitrary, and a highly-pressurized marker in the sand. It’s an emotional and burdensome extension of Christmas itself—another strange mix of expectation, hype, and disappointment.

New Year’s Eve is society’s mass birthday party. And just as we learn as we get older that we don’t change on the days of and after our birthdays, we learn that the slates aren’t magically rubbed clean on Jan. 1.

Other things happen during the year to change us, and the sensible part of our heads knows that change only comes when the mechanics of change within us, and around us, are in alignment. Those things cannot be forced into play just because the date says they should be.

We also find out that while drinking can be fun, and being around our loved ones and friends can be warm and embracing, those things are magnified on Dec. 31. In our desire for the perfect night, we fall short, we disappoint ourselves and sometimes others.

And yet, like lemmings, we’re still out for the best night, terrified on this night more than any other to spend it quietly or by ourselves. We’re being ridiculous of course: instead of wanting so much out of our evening, we should think small. Think nice, not magnificent.

New Year’s Eve is one evening that would benefit from some humbug, a night where we get real.

As JLaw says, something may well land in your lap if you haven’t planned anything. But as she also says, if the inevitability of “drunk and disappointed” also beckons for you, then—as well as nearby Advil and glasses of water—also have your favorite movie or sporting event lined up for New Year’s Day.

The best way to get through New Year’s Day is not by charging at resolutions, but by cheering on your team, singing along with Julie Andrews, laughing with Julia Roberts, or crying with Bette Davis.

The resolutions can wait until Jan. 2, and then—of course—there’s the dull thud of the return to work on Jan. 3. And so are the days of our lives…