Saturday, December 27, 2008

A New Year’s Riff

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

In my experience, the population is divided on the subject of celebrating New Year’s Eve. The most vocal members have had their plans in place for at least a month in anticipation of hearty partying. For the rest of us, it’s something to get through as uneventfully as possible.

I fall into the latter group, which, I suspect, is a silent majority. However, my feelings about New Year’s Eve are strong. I dread it. I think I almost always have.

In childhood, it was the celebration I always missed. No matter how hard I tried, sleep overcame me before that ball dropped. The next morning, the house rarely failed to show evidence of some secret grown-up ritual I was certain was as magical as it was mysterious. Someday, I thought, I will be old enough to join in such fun.

As an adolescent, I spend the long nights in a number of strangers’ homes, tending to their offspring as they frolicked away the last of the year. It was such a bore. Regular television was preempted for the New Year’s specials. It seemed that everyone in the world was partying but me, or so I imagined. At least then I earned a nice bit of change for the empty hours.

As I grew older, New Year’s developed into a time of involuntary reflection. It is when the earth and everyone on it ages, including me. Each January 1, I feel as if I have aged at least a year, although my birthday is five months away.

It’s not that I never had a good New Year’s Eve. While my children were young, I experienced the night through their eyes. We would go out to see a movie together and then either go home or gather at a friend’s house.

As our collective youngsters fought the good fight to stay awake, the adults cooked marvelous treats. We were even known to fire-up the backyard grill and roast s’mores. We sang camp songs and downed hot chocolate. And if anyone remembered, we turned on the tube in time to catch the ball drop, gingerly stepped over the bodies of sleeping offspring to offer the traditional New Year’s kisses.

It was heaven.

But all too soon, my kids were making their own plans for the evening. It seems that the celebration had now grown to include teenagers. Now, my job became one of worrying: Were they where they said they would be? Would they come home in one piece? The up side to having children is that concern for their well being often obscures concern about your own life. So, in a perverse sort of way, my New Year’s Eve dance card remained filled.

For some time now I have been left to my own devices. And I have tried just about everything I could think of to get the dark night behind me. Some years I would force myself to make elaborate plans to avoid ending up alone. This tended to drive my friends, usually a generous lot, and nuts. I’d start asking them in August what they were doing for the New Year. They would pat me on the head, laugh and dive back into the swimming pool.

So I tried ignoring it. It was just another night. Yeah, right. Let me tell so something. It doesn’t matter how many videos you rent or how early you hit the sack, the world will insist upon reminding you at midnight – with firecrackers, bells and whistles – that you are entering the New Year.

Lately, I’ve been taking a more moderate approach. I try not to obsess until mid-December. Then I make casual overtures to a friend or two. If nothing turns up, I try to make my peace with the evening. I may decide to go to a movie. Perhaps I arm myself with a good book, some incredibly decadent food and new CDs.

These days, I bet I can party harty on the internet. Betcha facebook will be rockin". Something tells me, I have a lot of company out there, eh?

1 comment:

carol said...

Hmmmm - Jerry and I presently have no plans,, so I guess we will see you in cybercelebration - ugh!