“I think we should just be honest with ourselves.” Andrew Jackson set his beer down on the arm of his Adirondack chair and looked around at the people gathered in the sunroom of the Jackson house. Grant and Karen Toews sat across the room from him on the old loveseat, their backs to the windows through which one would have been able to see gently falling snow, if only it hadn’t been completely dark outside. To his right, Fred and Angela Brown sat just in front of the faux antique wood stove in which a fire burned silently behind a glass door. Rounding out the crowd was Andrew’s wife Rose, who sat in the Adirondack chair to his left. “People look at New Year’s Eve like it’s some kind of magical new beginning,” he continued, “but let’s be realistic, if 2018 sucked, then 2019 is almost certainly going to suck in exactly the same ways. Am I right?”
There was a brief silence while the others considered this.
“I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of person,” said Angela in response, then paused, distracted by her wineglass. “And my glass is quite a bit less than half full which means it’s time for a refill,” she concluded as she got up and headed over to the drink table.
“Bring me some of that please, would you?” said Rose, holding up her glass. Angela reached over and filled Rose’s glass.
“I forget what we were talking about,” she said.
“2018,” said Grant. “A tough year. I think it’ll go down as a year in which, if all you did was not accomplish anything, you should consider it a success.”
“If that’s how you measure it,” said Fred, “then every year is a success for me.”
“It’s true,” said Angela. “Every year I make a list of things I want Fred to accomplish and then he spends the whole year not accomplishing them.”
“Why would you make a new list every year?” asked Rose. “Why not just use the same list every year?”
“That’s a terrible idea Rose,” said Karen. “Can you imagine if Fred had the same list of things to accomplish every year and then every year he didn’t accomplish them? He would feel like a failure.”
“I agree,” said Fred. “It’s important for my feelings of self-worth to try to find new ways to fail each year.”
“That seems logical,” said Andrew. “I think you should also try to find more important ways to fail every year. It’s all about personal growth. Being a failure at, say, getting to the café on time for breakfast one year is all fine and dandy, but if you can follow that by also being a failure at curling the next year, well, now people will start to take notice. Am I right Grant?”
“You are absolutely right Andrew,” said Grant. “Although in fairness to me, I live half an hour’s drive from the café, not a five-minute walk like you, and also the reason I fail at curling is that I’m not very good at sweeping and Karen won’t let me practise by sweeping our house because I’m not very good at it so she’d rather do it herself. It’s a real catch-22.”
“It’s true,” said Karen. “I don’t let him sweep because there’s no point. I let him vacuum though. If curling ever evolves to where they allow vacuuming instead of sweeping, Grant will be a star.”
“I doubt that will happen in 2019,” said Andrew, “but one should never give up hope.”
“Curling would be so much more interesting,” said Angela, “if they added other kinds of housework besides sweeping. Like folding laundry.”
“Be that as it may,” said Andrew, “we are getting distracted from the purpose of this party, which was to celebrate the end of one crappy year and the beginning of a new one.”
“What time is it?” asked Grant.
Andrew looked at his watch. “It’s 11:55,” he said. “Five more minutes till this year from hell is over and we all look at each other and wonder, what new hell is this?”
“You’re always the life of the party Andrew, aren’t you though?” said Grant.
“Keepin’ it real pal,” said Andrew.
“I propose a toast,” said Rose.
“Good idea,” said Andrew. “Go ahead.”
“No no,” said Rose. “I’m not making a toast. I’m just proposing that someone else should make one.”
“That’s not exactly what proposing a toast means, honey,” said Andrew, “but you’re right, somebody should make a toast before midnight. Who’s game?”
There was a moment of silence and then Grant raised his glass. “I would just like to say… ” he began.
“Too late,” said Andrew, looking at his watch. “It’s over.”
“Thank God,” said Grant. “And Happy New Year!”