February 22, 2019

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Maggie Van Ostrand

New Year's Day

by Maggie Van Ostrand



New Year's Eve is one thing, New Year's Day quite another. On that day, we have both the gift of football, and the penalty of hangovers.


Of course, if you'd celebrated like a wild thing many decades ago, prior to 1894 when the word "hangover" first came into use, you would have had to describe how you felt on New Year's Day as "I feel like all the nerve ends in my body are on the outside of my skin; my stomach is full of fists; the room keeps spinning like a Lego wheel; I'm nauseous; my head throbs like it's jackhammered; I feel like someone threw a grenade into my skull; I have no spit, my mouth's so dry, a cactus is growing on my tongue; my eyes feel like deflated basketballs."


And yet, nothing has changed in 125 years, except we now use only one word: hangover. Even if we feel all those things that define the word "hangover," we'll do the same thing all over again next New Year's Eve, and pay for it the next day.


  • A hangover can kill you. It's a depressant and it can be deadly. But rather than die directly from a hangover, what will ransack you is the poisoning, dehydration and/or severe CNS (central nervous system) depression of over consumption, according to the U.K.'s Health Sciences Academy.


When I was a kid, I remember New Year's Day as being the day when we had to go to church (January 1st is a Day of Obligation), whether or not it was Sunday. We learned to never sit in the back because that's where all the hungover people sat, and they rocked back and forth, expelling more gas than a '38 Buick. I suppose you could say they were literally sitting in their own pew. My sister and I giggled behind our impious hands, braving stern looks from our mother. "Stop that!!" she'd whisper, "Those people are sick." She wasn't kidding, as I later learned after I moved out to begin my own life, old enough to hoist a few myself.


I learned there are many, many things I'd rather do than ever have another hangover: I'd rather clean out leaf-packed gutters in the rain, put chains on tires in a winter snowstorm, or hope that I didn't just swallow the hairy thing that fell into my coffee cup.


I'd even rather watch football.








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