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Christopher Gabriel, Published December 28 2009

Gabriel: Here's to a work-free New Year's Eve

With Christmas in our rear-view mirrors, the final holiday on our Gather Around Beverages Among Large Groups of People scorecards is upon us: New Year’s Eve.

Technically New Year’s Day is the holiday, but no one really celebrates New Year’s Day. Do they? It’s the all-important night before that gets the attention and adulation.

Oh sure, Jan. 1 has the old standby events like the Tournament of Roses Parade on ABC, NBC, Lifetime, Bravo, Weather Channel, Disney, Telemundo and Al Jazeera to go with five football bowl games including the Rose, Sugar and the always compelling Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.

But the night before, Dec. 31 – that’s Big Ticket night. It’s Adults Gone Wild on national television and everyone’s invited.

That night we’re overwhelmed with wall-to-wall, round-the-world coverage of men and women dancing, drinking and singing. There are live fireworks displays and live TV feeds of celebrities broadcasting from a yacht in Australia’s Sydney Harbour, where black-tie dress is mandatory, to a vodka bar in Kathmandu, Nepal, where three Sherpas and a goat are toasting the New Year.

No matter how you spend Dec. 31, it’s generally far more exciting than what you do the next day, which is sleep. You sleep because the night before was an evening of excess.

With too much dancing, too much drinking and having to say “I’m sorry, I have no idea who you are,” approximately 600 times, New Year’s Eve is an evening that will break you if you’re not ready.

Seasoned adults – ones who’ve trained all year for the big night by attending every party they were invited to, crashing several dozen they weren’t, and hosting no less than five kindergarten birthday parties to refine survival skills – are brought to their knees if they’re not 100 percent on their game.

With all this in mind, and understanding the relative importance of a successfully executed New Year’s Eve game plan, I believe I have a solution that ensures every adult is able to make it out of bed on Jan. 1 before kickoff in Pasadena: No work on Dec. 31.

Radical? Perhaps. Logical? I think so. Doable? Definitely.

The basic problem for most of us on New Year’s Eve, at least in the years it falls on a weekday, is that we have to work. Do employers not understand we need time to prepare? This is our social Super Bowl, for Heaven’s sake. For evening number 365 to flow smoothly like a great Olympic luge run, we need day 365 to ourselves.

Our bosses should have an intimate understanding of this and simply tell everyone Happy New Year as we’re leaving work on Dec. 30.

The pressure of trying to be productive at work on the last day of the year, knowing full well a marathon evening is only hours away, is often too much for a person to handle.

Look around your office on Dec. 31. You won’t see productive workers anywhere in the room. What you’ll see is an office full of emotional wrecks with forced smiles and painful “Happy New Year” greetings while holding back tears knowing New Year’s Eve Game Day preparation has been negated by the insanity of being forced to work.

With that in mind, let’s be strong at work this Thursday. Happy New Year, Fargo-Moorhead.

Christopher Gabriel is host of “The Christopher Gabriel Program” from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on AM 970 WDAY. Read his blog at http://cgabriel.com and preview his show at www.areavoices.com/cgabriel.