Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year…Past and Present

When I was a kid we celebrated New Year’s Eve at my aunt Mary’s house. Everyone would have dinner in their own home and then around six o’clock we would gather at her house to wait for the New Year. Now there were three families living in this six family house in Brooklyn and my other aunt Mary and uncle Louie would come and stay over. All in all there were 12 of us celebrating. 

My aunts and uncles, along with my parents, would be playing poker and smoking all night. The five cousins would be entertained by my aunt Mary, who didn’t smoke and didn’t care for playing cards. She kept us busy playing games, singing and telling stories. She got us New Year’s hats and noise makers, streamers and confetti. All the while, Guy Lombardo’s band would be in the background at Times Square. It was a great way to end a holiday season that started on Thanksgiving and ended literally with a bang on New Year’s Eve. That was because after the ball dropped and we all kissed each other and wished each other a Happy New Year, the adults would go back to playing cards and my aunt Mary would give us her pots and spoons. She would take us out in front of the door and let us bang the pots to welcome the New Year, until we got too cold and wanted to go back inside. Then she would tell us to lie down and take a “nap” because the adults weren’t finished playing cards. Those were the good old days of Happy New Year!

Then, when I was about 15, my aunt Mary and her family moved away, about 45 minutes away. Everything changed. They didn’t want to drive in or my mother didn’t want a full house on New Year’s Eve. My mother didn’t want to drive out there either. She was afraid of drunk drivers and most of all “stray bullets” because people shot their guns off New Year’s Eve. So we all stayed at our own homes. My aunt did offer to let us sleep over, but my mother wasn’t a very agreeable person. So the four of us stayed up to watch the ball drop and went to bed. It was a pretty miserable adjustment to have to make after all these years. It wasn’t a very Happy New Year. But, by the time I got to college I had adjusted and didn’t much care anymore, I was just glad to be on winter break.

When I met my husband, we were in our twenties. He had a long time, rat pack of friends, I did not. His friends had spouses and girlfriends and for several New Year’s Eve we went out with them to celebrate at a local restaurant. We got dinner, a champagne toast, party hats and noise makers and drinks. We couldn’t hear ourselves talk, the places were so jam packed with people who have nothing better to do. But at least we weren’t sitting alone, at home, watching Guy Lombardo or Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. We were out in the thick of the celebration and noise getting out first hangovers of the New Year. Happpppppppppppy New Year!

Then I got married and had my first baby in 1987. There was no way we were going out to celebrate New Year’s Eve! There are drunk drivers on the roads and “stray bullets” out there! I wasn’t going to take any chances and leave my baby orphaned. So we stayed home, baby tucked in her crib, and we watched the ball drop, while in our own bed, just waiting till we could officially go to sleep. No sense trying to turn in ahead of time because outside our bedroom window were ridiculous people banging pots and blowing noise makers and setting off fireworks all to welcome the New Year…what kind of foolishness is that? Happy Party-Pooping New Year!

As my girls got older and understood New Year’s was another holiday where they could stay up late and make noise and throw confetti, we had to humor them. Again we spent it just the four of us at home watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve together. Then we waited for the countdown and hugged, kissed, threw confetti and went outside with noise makers and pots. Sweet revenge on the neighbors who had kept us up every year! Still I felt bad that my girls weren’t surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles when welcoming the new year. In fact, it gets worse, as my husband and I could no longer last till midnight, the girls stayed up by themselves till one o’clock or so. It’s pretty pitiful I know, but then they really never knew any better. New Year’s Sucks!

Now they are both out of college. My older daughter will be out with her boyfriend and/or friends, while my younger daughter should go to bed early because she has to get up at 5:30 am to be at work at 6:30 am. The dog will get me and my husband up at 5:30 am too. There won’t be much celebrating here. I will be watching the Twilight Zone marathon until I fall fast asleep, which shouldn’t take long. I hope I sleep through the noise at midnight too. No matter what time you go to sleep at night, 5:30 am comes much too soon. Who the hell cares if it’s New Year’s Eve, I need my sleep!

And so I wish you and your loved ones all a very Happy & Healthy New Year in 2013, no matter how you celebrate, if you celebrate, or if you go straight to bed! 

1 comment:

  1. Did you forget about going to Mom's house on New Year's Day, when the kids were young,and all the fun we had that day to celebrate the New Year. Crazy hats, more presents, noise makers, glow sticks, a room full of balloons, streamers, more streamers, a good meal, and laughter that was worth more than a winning lottery ticket. It may not have happened on New Year's Eve, but I think we adapted pretty well. I love you all...