Happy New Year’s Eve, guys! Let’s party, man…let’s get drunk and wooo and…well, maybe not. Could I perhaps interest you in some appetizers and board games? My NYE celebrations have pretty much varied from one extreme to the other over the years. How about you?
I used to expect a lot out of this one day. As a kid, I would watch my beautiful mother get ready for that year’s New Years Eve party. I still associate the smell of hairspray, perfume and cigarette smoke with watching her carefully apply her makeup and do her hair before heading out to a mysterious event while we stayed home with a babysitter. It was so fun to get the little trinkets when my parents came home – they would always bring us something: a noisemaker, a horn with the paper that unrolled when you blew into it, or a hat (sometimes like a tiara!) with the new year emblazoned on it.
Sometimes my parents would host the party themselves, and my brother and I would be in charge of greeting guests and taking their coats. That was fun too, seeing everyone dressed up, hearing the music downstairs (where the party was happening) and feeling the general air of excitement. In the morning I would get up early and helpfully clean up the downstairs and the bar area. I loved doing this, for some reason – clearing away the cups and plates, emptying ashtrays, and (ahem) pouring all the leftover alcohol down the drain. (I think I thought it went bad if you left it out.) I don’t remember my parents ever yelling at me for this – I don’t know if they didn’t realize I did it or if they did correct me and I’ve just forgotten.
When I got old enough to attend parties myself, that’s when things went sour. I always built the evening up in my head and it never matched up. I was usually left alone at a party with nobody to talk to, or I’d actually get in a fight with whatever guy I went with. The crowning glory was the year I was 18, and I went with my boyfriend to a party held in a hotel. He took off to do something (get us drinks? I don’t remember anymore) and I was in this room with a bunch of people I didn’t know. They were all involved in their own conversations and nobody talked to me. After about an hour of sitting there getting increasingly bored by the minute, I decided to just walk around the huge hotel and see if I could find him. And find him I did: walking through the large double doors into the lobby, holding another girl’s hand. You can imagine how the rest of the evening went.
In my 20s, before the kids came along, my first husband and I would sometimes get a reservation at a restaurant with my parents. They’d have a whole deal with drinks, a fancy meal and sometimes dancing afterward. We did this a couple times until we got tired of the usual routine: we’d have a reservation and still have to wait for hours to be seated. (I remember playing many games of cards with my mom while we waited.)
When the kids came along, we’d usually do parties with the neighbors who had kids near their age. Somebody would host, everyone would bring some kind of food, and it was a nice time for the whole family. After just a few of these parties, the group of neighbors broke up as some moved away and we stayed put.
When I met Dave in 1998, we settled into a nice routine, one that doesn’t have me dreading New Years Eve anymore. We would buy a bunch of appetizers and stay in, making lots of gooey bad-for-us food that we indulged in for the one night. If the kids were with us (some years they were at their dad’s), we would play board games until midnight. We’d bring them with us to the store so they could pick out the appetizers and desserts they wanted. One year we made hot fudge sundaes. We always played games: Sequence, Phase 10, Yahtzee, Cranium…sometimes Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Pass the Pigs – whatever we were in the mood for. We’d watch the ball drop on TV and kiss and whoop as the new year arrived.
This year will be a little different as Dave and I transition back to NYE with just the two of us. We don’t drink, and I’m not in the mood for the appetizer thing this year, so we are making a homemade lasagna and apple pie for dessert. A little decadent but what the heck, right? We are very much not party people…in fact, I can’t imagine anything I would enjoy less than to go to a party on NYE. So we’re going to be here, starting in on Season 3 of Breaking Bad while Dave nurses this terrible cold he still has. We’ll see if we make it to midnight. We’ve never gone to bed before midnight on NYE but there’s a first time for everything!