Ring out the old: looking forward to a new start in 2015
New Year's Eve seems to bring out two very different emotions in people - relief or fear.
Either you can't wait to see the back of a bad year or you are terrified of letting go of a good one.
A few days ago I met up with a friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer last January and has gone through a year of hellish treatment.
She was counting the minutes until her 'annus horribilis' was over. After a year of stress and worry,she was looking forward to parking 2014 and embracing 2015.
Another pal who miraculously got pregnant and had her first baby this year was dreading leaving her perfect 12 months behind. She was very anxious. How on earth could 2015 possibly be as magical as 2014?
That's the thing about the December 31, no one knows what a new year will bring and it makes people nervous.
Single people hope that this New Year will be the one in which they meet the love of their lives. Childless couples wish for a baby. Sick people dream of health or new drugs that will give them back their quality of life. The unemployed hope to find jobs.
The end of a year heightens emotions and brings worries to the fore. I have been to many New Year's Eve parties where people have ended up in tears. I remember spending one New Year's Eve crying in a toilet at a house party during the countdown to midnight because it was my fourth year trying to get pregnant and failing.
I was hiding in the bathroom because I couldn't find my husband and the last thing I wanted to do was end up beside a stranger, counting backwards and holding hands while singing 'Auld Lang Syne'.
Come to think of it, I've spent many a New Year's Eve locked in bathrooms. I've held friends' hands as they wept about break-ups, deceased parents, sick children, out-of-work husbands - the list is endless.
New Year's Eve can really bring worries to the fore. If you happen to be near a bathroom close to midnight, you will undoubtedly find a line of distraught people trying to hide as the countdown begins.
Even if you've had a good year, the pressure to have a good time on New Year's Eve can often be very intense.
You have to go out, you have to have fun. The end result is often underwhelming and grim.
Restaurants are overcrowded, drinks are overpriced and the impossibility of finding a taxi means you will probably start the New Year wandering the streets in the freezing cold with aching feet.
Whatever your feelings on the year you have had, the eve of a new one is definitely a time for reflection.
How has your year been? Did things get better or worse? How have you managed success or failure? What have you achieved? Have those goals you set last year come to fruition?
Setting goals or New Year's resolutions is something a lot of us do. We want to change our lives and make them better.
We believe that if we vow to be thinner or happier or give up smoking that our lives will be immeasurably better.
Yet, there is nothing more miserable than a hungry dieter, someone forcing themselves to be 'happy', or a smoker with nicotine withdrawal.
Some objectives are more ambitious than others but regardless of your target levels, today will find many people making vows to change their lives and do something positive come tomorrow.
My New Year's resolution is to take the juicer I bought last January out of its box and learn how to make healthy, nutritious and energy-enhancing smoothies. Everywhere you go you hear about the wonder of juices. They make your skin glow, your hair shine and give you the energy of Michael Flatley on speed.
The idea of mixing carrots, beetroot and spinach makes my stomach lurch. But I am determined to do it as I'm hoping the juices will give me more energy, which will in turn make me more productive. I had the same cunning plan last year and yet the juicer remained snugly in its packaging.
Another failed New Year's goal was one I set myself four years ago. I made a pact with five close girlfriends that we would put money aside every month for one year and then go to New York for a treat. We never even made it to Wexford.
The main problem with resolutions is that we all too often set the bar too high. Deciding to run a marathon, lose a stone, save half your salary or spend two more hours each day with your children is unrealistic and frankly improbable.
So perhaps setting achievable goals is the key to success. Maybe my friends and I should have aimed to go to a more realistic destination like Galway instead of New York. In the end, the only thing anyone really wants from a new year is health and happiness for their loved ones. After the excesses and the financial strain of Christmas, New Year's Eve is a time to reflect on the 'bigger picture'.
What really matters? What is the essence of a good life? What is happiness? What constitutes a good year?
For all of us, I think, our dearest wish is to be surrounded by healthy and happy family and friends.