By Scott Robertson
I can’t remember a year that more people wanted to see end than 2016. It’s become an Internet meme: “Giant meteor 2016: end it already!” Okay, that may have been more about the seemingly eternal election cycle than the year in toto, but still.
The number of iconic celebrities who died during the year has felt remarkable. Maybe this many beloved figures pass away every year, but it has felt like every time I turned around, another bit of my own personal pop culture has passed on. Maybe that’s just a sign of getting older. The ones who are going are getting perilously closer to my age. George Michael, Alan Rickman, Prince…but New Years is the time for new beginnings, not for maudlin retrospection. For that, I turn to our friends at wallethub.com for invaluable statistical research (Johnson City News subscribers can see more from Wallethub on page 2B).
You may remember when we quoted wallethub’s investigation into which retailers run the best (and worst) Black Friday sales. The site found that some retailers would give large discounts on big ticket items, while one store offered a “sale” with a discount of one-seventh of one percent off the everyday retail cost (Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin).
Wallethub’s New Years research says, among other things:
• We have a broad spectrum of plans for the celebration of the coming of 2017, but most of us will be in our own homes when 2016 ends: 48 percent of us plan to celebrate in our own TV rooms as the crystal-covered ball drops in Times Square (we still miss you, ageless Dick Clark). A full 22 percent meanwhile, will be at home but not celebrating. Twenty percent of us plan to be celebrating at someone else’s house when the ball drops. The rest will be at a bar, restaurant, or at some other organized event.
• Almost half of America’s parents plan to count down the final ten seconds of the year with their children – at 9 p.m. The parents don’t want the kiddies to be grumpy on the first day of the year from having stayed up too late the night before. Very practical, but it kind of seems like the first steps toward teaching the kids to ignore inconvenient realities and pretend the world works on their own terms instead. Maybe I’m overthinking it.
• We’re more honest than I would have expected. You may remember that 22 percent said they did not plan to celebrate. Fully 30 percent, however, say they’ll fall asleep before midnight. That means at least 8 percent of those of us who plan to stay up and celebrate are admitting we’ll fall out before midnight. If I’m honest, the odds are good I fit solidly into this category.
• Among those who plan to celebrate away from home, almost all will do so a good distance away. You may remember that around 70 percent will be at home. Yet just over 100 million of us will be at least 30 miles away from our own houses. If you do the math with a nationwide population of more than 300 million, pretty much everybody who’s out of the house will be way out of the house. Of those 100 million, more than 90 million say they’ll drive to their destination (Orlando and New York are the top destinations).
• More than 360 million glasses of champagne or other sparkling beverage will be quaffed, washing down the 365 black eyed peas which many of us will have had for luck during the last 24 hours of the year.
• The average blood alcohol content measured on New Years Eve is 0.094 percent, making New Years the most inebriated night of the year. The average cost of a DUI is $10,000, by the way, and it goes without saying it could have a much higher cost. Those stats should always be given together.
• Just under 7,800 babies are born New Years Day, forcing hospital public relations professionals to be on call so they can issue the annual press release about the first baby born in the new year.
• Just under 12,000 babies are born on Sept. 23 each year. I think you can figure out why that figure fits into this list.
• Two out of every three Americans make a New Years resolution. One in 12 meets with success.
• But here’s my favorite stat about America’s fourth-favorite holiday: Six out of every seven Americans say they plan to spend less than $200 on New Years Eve celebrations, but 20 percent of all charitable contributions are made in the last 48 hours of the year. As a nation, when we reach the end of the year with a little cash left in our pockets, we tend to give it to those in need much more often than we spend it on one last self-indulgence. That cup of kindness alone makes the day worth celebrating.