Happy Old Year

The month-long New Year’s party is finally over in France.

I for one am relieved when the frenzy of clinging champagne flutes, kissy face and ‘bonne année, bonne santé’ finally comes to a halt in France at the end of January.

I never know what to say, for one thing. The French express their ‘voeux’ or new year’s wishes with uncharacteristic fervor. People you barely know will give you a little speech about how they hope this year will bring you both personal and professional success, good health, sufficient wealth and enough time to enjoy them all…along with your family members whom they will cite by name. My pathetic little ‘bonne année’ in return sounds so completely inadequate I hardly dare mutter the words. January turns into a month of avoidance while I hide until the wave has passed.

And for another, there is no point in making a resolution if you don’t put it into practice. For me the new year is a time to rest your liver, curtail the carbs and hit the exercise mat. If I don’t get January off to the right start, the entire year can quickly degenerate into serial excess.

While I truly love Christmas, I’ve never been much of a one for New Year’s. The hysteria around the change of date, arbitrary at best in the time continuum, leaves me indifferent. And the pressure to party seems, frankly, inane.

But the French get teary eyed and seem to sincerely believe in the promise of le nouvel an just as I still believe in Santa.

In an attempt to get into the spirit of things, here are my voeux to the French for 2013:

‘May this new year bring you a healthy economy, and enough wealth to ensure you keep your AA rating. May your politicians continue to provide les guignols with plenty of fodder. In particular, I wish Parisians the shortest of traffic jams, a minimum of strike days, and enough sun to warm your eight weeks of holidays in the Alps, on the Cote d’Azur or in Corsica.  May Gérard Depardieu live peacefully in Belgium or Russia or wherever he finds haven. Amen.”

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