It has been our tradition for the past decade to stay home on New Years Eve. The night of champagne, lasagna, chocolate cake and a family movie feels like a warm embrace at the finish line after the Fall-of-the-Roman-empire-meets-Mardi Gras-meets-Iron Man that our Decembers inevitably turned into.
Pete and I are extroverts. We love going out. We love meeting people. We love talking and staying up past bedtime. At parties, we part ways at the entrance and don’t meet again until it’s time to go. If you see us standing together at a party, there is a problem (with the party, not with us). We are not people who would ever say to ourselves (or each other) “We already have enough friends.”
December has historically been exhausting, taking a toll on our waistlines, our livers, our immune systems and our checking account. We do it to ourselves willingly – launch ourselves into the sybaritic abyss with glee – but my God do we welcome Jan 1.
This year was different.
December 2018, the first holiday season in our new community, was not the usual frenzy of party invites, plans in the neighboring big city, pot lucks, yankee swaps, festive liquid lunches, cheese tastings, wine tastings, late nights, caution-to-the-wind mid-week bacchanals, open houses, impromptu neighborhood gatherings, and on and on.
It. Was. So. Quiet. We simply haven’t gotten to know enough people here to receive many invitations.
We didn’t mind. We relished the tranquility, figuring it might be our only such season: Next December, with another 12 months of Utah living under our belts, we will have met more people and made more friends, and we’ll likely have more opportunities to kick up our heels around town. Now, though, we’re newcomers, anonymous, under the radar. So we hung at home, cooking, listening to music, reading and playing games by the fire in our pajamas.
An article crossed my radar in the fall about JOMO – the joy of missing out. The concept sounded amusing but I didn’t read past the headline. The acronym stuck in my mind, though, and as December unfolded I started feeling it. It was curious. Why on earth was staying home not knowing anyone and not getting party invites sparking joy when I FREAKING LOVE PARTIES?
The unflattering truth is because no matter how insanely we’d packed our holiday calendar with fun over the last decade, I couldn’t shake FOMO. It didn’t matter if we had half a dozen invitations between Thanksgiving and Christmas; what drew my focus was the invitations we didn’tget. Like the year the annual mother-daughter Nutcracker day with friends in Boston wrapped up hurriedly because everyone else had to get back for a party we weren’t invited to. Or evenings where we’d be talking to friends at a gathering and they’d suddenly say goodbye – or worse, not say goodbye – and move on to an event that didn’t involve us.
What we did was never enough – for me, anyway. Pete was fine with all of it – as well as exasperated by my bitching about whatever we weren’tdoing. It was a stupid-ass way to be; ungrateful. I regularly tried to overcome those thoughts and feelings with very little success.
Here, the work was done for me. We had no expectations. No patron saints of party time to introduce us around. And therefore no pressure and no stress. No FOMO. A nearly empty calendar, no new outfits, no hostess gift shopping, just our own whims and agenda, and the (sibling harmony-dependent) quiet of the family. We had JOMO.
We reached our 2018 finish line via a different route this year, but spending the final evening of the year at home (with out-of-town friends visiting) was no less sweet. My goal is to hang on to that equilibrium next December (and the rest of year, really), to leave FOMO behind. Not that we’ll turn down any invitations, oh no, no, no, that would run counter to our true natures. I just want to be at peace with whatever we’re doing or not doing, focused on joy rather than fear.