1 januari 2019.
To all those who read this, my colleques and friends and acquaintances in the Netherlands and abroad: I wish you a good, beautiful, healthy and blessed 2019!
‘We survived the New Year’s Eve’s violence again, Jorick’, I said to my dog when I got up this morning to take him for a walk. The poor animal had hidden behind the boilerroom throughout the final day of the year and the day before that, terrified of every bang and in spite of a calming pill three times a day. He would not eat nor drink and refused to go out which he usually enjoys so much. Animals have an instinct for danger and look for a place to hide.
After the Dutch tradition of eating ‘oliebollen’, the countdown to twelve o’clock starts. Each year this is a period of tension for me. You leave a year behind, a year that has become familiar, like a garment that you know does not fit anymore, but you hate to throw it away.
I have lost my beloved one, I have celebrated the transition from the old to the new year alone for several years now, insofar you can call it celebrating. I still remember how it used to be:
Now, Marcus, now… the champagne cork popped out of the bottle, we raised our glasses, took a sip, raised our glasses again and embraced each other: ‘Happy New Year’, and we both knew how fragile this wish was.
Outside, the first flares shot hissing into the air and then it all started.
This year, too, the war refugees will have felt as if they were back home, when the orgy of thunderclaps broke loose. Illegal fireworks forbidden by law? What do you mean forbidden, with deafening noises these heavy bombs exploded one after the other.
What joy does this give the person who lights them? I wondered. Is it to impress your friends, to be cool? Does such a huge bang also send frustrations up into the air, or is it purely for kicks?
I struggle with this. A week earlier it was Christmas and people were talking about peace and caring for each other. Maybe children, who saved money to be able to buy fireworks, did not fully grasp this, but what about adults: have they completely forgotten this in a week’s time?
But don’t let this put me down. Lighting fireworks indiscriminately is meeting more and more resistance. Maybe next New Year’s Eve a special area will be designated to ring out the old year. And I hope the ban on lighting fireworks outside this time slot will finally be enforced.
Everyone, or almost everyone, was still lying behind closed curtains when this morning on the first day of the new year I took my dog’s lead for his walk. Again, he wagged his tail in excited happiness. And while Jorick tried to extend his walk again and again, I saw the mess of this ultimate end-of-year party lying in the streets: exploded, smoked out, empty shells, empty boxes. So many millions went up into the air, with all the pollution that goes with it.
It’s behind us now, the new year has started.