Most of us are basking in the after-Christmas glow right now. For our family, that means a little sleeping in, eating leftovers and spending our holiday gift cards. Last night, I finally put our tree to rest and boxed up the ornaments. There was no way that thing could have held out any longer. It was practically bald when my husband carried it out the front door. Only the good die young, as they say.
I was in the grocery last night picking up some milk and diapers when I realized that already there were displays of Easter candy flanking the aisles right next to the party hats and sparklers for New Year’s Eve. (Inner monologue: Oh right! New Year’s Eve is coming up next.) It is like a retail marketing race to see who can come out with the next big consumer hook. Personally, I can’t get reeled into the Easter mindset until I at least get New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day under my belt. Call me crazy.
For some reason though, New Year’s Eve has always been one of those holidays that I can’t get to live up to the hype. I have only had a handful of December 31st’s that stick in my memory for being pretty memorable.
1989 (I think) – I was a teenager and my childhood friend hosted a big New Year’s bash at her parent’s house. We weren’t of age yet to drink, but I think we did a little. Actually, I am sure we did. There were tons of people there, lots of laughs and I think this was the first officially New Year’s Eve party that I ever attended. Everybody got dressed up and it was sort of a “coming of age” experience.
1990 (I think) – That New Year’s Eve my girlfriend and I drove her mom’s minivan to Chicago to meet up with these boys from Naperville, IL who we met on Spring Break. We were infatuated. It was my first road trip and my first time in Chicago. We stayed at a Hyatt downtown and attended a huge New Year’s Eve party in The Windy City.
1993 (I think) – That New Year’s Eve was fun because four of my old high school friends were back in our hometown (like I was) from college. We got a hotel room at a place that also had a cheesy dance club downstairs and we basically got really drunk in our room before dancing ourselves into the years 1994. Good friends. Good drinks. Good music. Good night.
1999 (for sure) – That was the Millennium, so of course I am positive about the year. I lived in Miami at the time. Back then, people were worried about Y2K and the Earth coming to an end. Just in case it did, my friend and I drove to Key West, where her parents had a place, and spent the New Year partying on a sail boat in the middle of the ocean with friends. I figured there at least we’d be safe from any chaos or stampede of people who may be running for their lives as the sidewalks started to crack and swallow up the last human beings on the planet. Luckily, it didn’t go down like that. A lot of Prince was played that night.
2002 (I think) – A group of couple-friends drove to Ft. Lauderdale (we lived in Miami so it wasn’t far) and stayed in a hotel near Las Olas, which is a main area for clubs, restaurants, shopping etc. There were beer specials, there was dancing, and there was a ball dropping. It was unseasonably cold for Florida and my cute outfit was covered up by a coat. That is all I really remember.
2004 (for sure) – That New Year’s Eve was spent in Prague on a hilltop overlooking the Old Town Square surrounded by fireworks. I was living there at the time and had made some wonderful friends that I cherish to this day.
All the other New Year’s Eves in my 36 years of life have sorted of faded into the background. It doesn’t mean they weren’t fun too, but I they just don’t stand out in my mind as having lived up to the New Year’s hype. I have been to New York on New Year’s Eve, but stood in a massive crowd of onlookers and had to pee so bad that I could taste it. It was miserable.
I also spent a couple of years in trendy, VIP nightclubs on South Beach where I paid way too much to get in, but in hindsight, it was the New Year’s Eve nights that I spent with close friends doing something fairly low key that meant the most.
Ever since I met my husband, I have stayed home on December 31st because he works in the hospitality industry. For servers, bartenders and others like him, that is “the biggest money-making night of the year.”
Our new chapter in life is about family. These days, I stay home with my kids and am lucky to keep my eyes open long enough to watch Dick Clark fumble through the Times Square special teleprompter as Ryan Seacrest tolerates some high-pitched, annoying guest host shoving a microphone in people’s faces asking them how excited they are and where they came from. I usually get myself a little platter of meats, cheeses and some shrimp but that that’s my celebration. Last year, I got noise makers that scared the living daylights out of my toddlers so even that is off limits.
Old boring me prefers to celebrate the New Year pretty simply.
Auld Lang Syne is very widely used to symbolize “endings/new beginnings” – it doesn’t always have to be a party. Don’t get me wrong, I can still hang with the best of them. But, it’s OK if I don’t too.
P.S. Still on my bucket list before I die is to spend New Year’s Eve in multiple time zones flying in a private jet from party to party, in case anyone is looking to sponsor that… I would be happy to write about it.