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The season of expectations - an aspie at New Year

The season of anticipation is over and the season of expectations begins.

As Christmas approaches, we hope for things, even as adults. We hope it will be all right, that we will be able to cope and that we won't get any of those awful, well-meaning presents which expect us to throw out our old, beloved possessions in favour of shiny new ones. We hope to enjoy the season.

With New Year, the goalposts shift so much it's hard to tell if you're on the pitch anymore. Suddenly, the nostalgic cheer of Christmas is replaced with a manic social interaction where people you barely know feel compelled to wish you a happy new year! grinning belligerently while you decide how to respond.

Yes, I know the response is 'happy new year', but I don't like new year and it always comes out in a mumble where I sound like I'm wishing them ill. So, I often end up doing the next worst thing and saying 'Thanks!' with the brightest smile I have and hurrying off.

Then people with their damn-fool resolutions. Please, save me from the resolutions and save yourself from having me point out you've made the same resolutions year after year and are no slimmer, wiser or richer than you were when we first met.

If asked, or forced, I admit to fake resolutions. In reality, my only resolution every year is not to get so overwhelmed in January that it takes me until March to recover. This is not what people want to hear, so I say something like eat healthily or exercise more. They don't ever question this as I'm well known for my biscuit eating and sloth-like ways.

Also, even though it happens every year (almost like clockwork) New Year as a celebration always feels like it is sprung on me. Christmas is in the shops from the end of Summer and has to be prepared for in a different way, meaning even the most narrow-focused person cannot escape the build-up to the Christmas season.

New Year is right after Christmas and it feels like the tree is still shaking in the corner when we are expected to throw off the shackles of the old year and welcome in the new. It means people have an excuse to be noisy, get drunk, dance in the street and do all manner of intrusive and sociable things which make me want to get out the catapult.

Yes, I know when it comes to the new year I am a grouch. I really am. I'm a nostalgia freak at the best of times, so new year is the reminder that I move forward without people who used to fill my life. It makes me worry that I won't be up to the challenge of the new year, the unknown lying waiting around the corner.

Really, how many of us embrace the unknown? The secret fear is that it is a beast, waiting just out of sight, slaver dripping from its jaws. The future is to be cheered and welcomed when we know what is in it. I believe a wise person treats the complete unknown with caution.

So this new year I will be looking forward to the good things I am planning. Rather than a wholesale welcome to the future, I will stand just behind the door and usher in January as if it is liable to kick on its way past.

I do wish you what you hope for in the new year. I even hope you stick to your resolutions, just so we don't have that awkward moment in April when I ask you how the skydiving is going.

Just don't expect me to be comfortable with the new year until it's been around a while. I need time to get used to new things and this is a big one, you know? Come back to me in February and I might be ready.

And don't be expecting me to sing Auld Lang Syne in a room full of other people while we all hold hands. I like to start my new year the way I mean to carry on, thank you very much.


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