New Year’s Eve Through the Years

When I was a kid, New Year’s Eve meant having family friends to dinner at our home, drinking sparkling cider, wearing silly hats, blowing on noisemakers, and banging pots and pans at midnight. It was always fun and exciting. I mean, just the fact that we got to stay up past midnight was reason to celebrate. I remember always having the Dick Clark show on TV. I remember everyone checking in every so often and seeing how much longer it was until Happy New Year. Then, the whole group would gather together in front of the TV and count down the last 10 seconds and yell and scream with excitement as the ball dropped in Times Square.

When I was a teen my New Year’s Eve focus was on listening to the radio countdown of the top songs of the previous year and getting all nostalgic. It was the music that defined my year at that time, and I couldn’t wait to hear what song was the number one song of the year. I still spent New Year’s Eve at my parents’ with family friends, and now was also able to invite a few of my own friends to join the fun.

When I was in my 20s, New Year’s Eve was about going out with friends to the most fun spot – club or party or both. I spent one New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas and one in New York. Both were disappointing. Vegas involved sharing a room with 7 other people, me and a friend losing the rest of the group and spending most of the evening walking up and down the extremely crowded strip looking for and not finding them (this was before cell phones). We ducked into a packed hotel bar for a quick champagne toast at midnight and then continued our hike. We ended up sleeping in the car and heading home at sunrise. New York started out great – seeing Times Square all glitzed up, watching the ball go up up up to where it would stay until it dropped at midnight… and then ending up at a house party in Queens, watching the ball drop on TV. Not sure how that happened. I could have done that at my parents’ dinner party!

The New Year’s Eves of my early adulthood always seemed to be some combination of fun, excitement, craziness and chaos. Often the build-up of what we should do or could do was completely different from what we ended up doing. That was part of the fun. There was one New Year’s Eve when my friend and I were in the drive-through line at In-N-Out when the clock struck midnight. We laughed and joked about how pathetic we were. There were last-minute overnight trips to San Diego, throwing impromptu parties in Newport Beach, party-hopping at various homes, bars, billiards, clubs and hotel ballrooms throughout Southern California. What was most fun was being with my group of friends, and of course, reminiscing and laughing about our kooky adventures later.

As a married person, New Year’s Eve transformed into attending and/or throwing smaller parties with friends/couples/neighbors. When we lived in Monterey, my husband and I hosted a small dinner party where we ordered fresh lobster tails from a local fisherman and had each couple bring an expensive bottle of champagne (i.e. Dom Perignon). Well, our lobster never arrived (we found out later the fisher’s truck got stuck in the mud in Moss Landing) and due to too many specialty martinis and an all-appetizer dinner, the expensive champagne at midnight might as well have been cheapo stuff (no one knew the difference at that point). We have had lots of nice, low-key New Year’s Eves … not the crazy “big” plans of my early adulthood, but fun times with friends. As we have gotten older, my husband and I have also cherished romantic New Year’s Eves at home, just the two of us with lobster or king crab legs, champagne and rented movies. Then, the two of us became three.

And now, with a young child, our New Year’s Eve is even more low-key. We never make it to midnight, so we may toast the New Year at around 8:00 p.m. with whatever we happen to be drinking. This year, because my husband has to work tomorrow morning, we’ll be in bed and asleep long before the fireworks go off, before the noise makers and pots and pans, before the ball drops in Times Square (at least before it’s shown here on the West Coast).

But even though our New Year’s Eves are now uneventful, they’re no less special, no less New Year’s Eve. In fact, they’re even more so. We cherish the year that we had with our little family, the accomplishments and challenges that came and went, and the amazing milestones we got to experience with our child. We look forward to a wonderful year ahead with many more new ones.

I’m sure our daughter will someday enjoy staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve banging pots and pans. I’m sure she’ll have her wild young adult New Year’s Eve experiences with friends (hopefully, not too wild). Maybe someday, when she’s grown, my husband and I will sneak off on a wild New Year’s Eve adventure, maybe in New York. Only this time we’ll watch the ball drop in some fabulous restaurant or hotel overlooking Times Square.

Happy New Year Everyone! Be safe and God bless.

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