In celebration of New Year's Eve Eve, I give you my list of holidays in order of expectation/payoff ratio:
- New Year's
- Valentine's Day
- St. Patrick's Day
- 4th of July
As thousands of sad, lonely people have already observed, it is basically impossible to have a good time on New Year's Eve, because all you can think about the whole night is why you're not having a more fantastic time. That is why it comes in first. Valentine's Day is ranked above Christmas for the simple reason that most of the non-male population have romantic-comedy level expectations for it, and all the single people expect to not be totally miserable on that day. Neither of the expectations have any chance of being met. Christmas, though usually not as good as all the trappings indicate, is still possible to enjoy to a reasonable extent as long as you like eggnog and have grown used to the idea that you are getting socks again.
On the other end of the spectrum, no one who wants to eat a gigantic meal and fall asleep watching football can be disappointed by Thanksgiving. All we expect is food, and familial strife is considered a cliche at this point, so that makes it tough to ruin the expectation balance. Similarly, all you have to do on the 4th of July is have some hotdogs and fireworks; St. Patrick's Day some beer and corned beef.