By Susan Baldani
As a child, my mother or grandmother would send us out to the front porch with pots and pans to bang together at midnight to ring in the new year. Sometimes we even had noisemakers. I’m sure the neighbors loved us.
When I was in my teens and twenties, my friends and I would always try to come up with the most exciting plans for New Year’s Eve. It was the celebration of a new year ahead and a chance to experience whatever we missed the year before. Inevitably, with all the buildup, our plans never did live up to the hype.
I’m not sure what we were doing wrong, but we were usually disappointed. It was nothing like it looked on television, with everyone cheering and hugging and having a fabulous time. Clubs and restaurants were always so crowded and everything seemed to cost a lot of money. Dancing was almost impossible since you could barely move in the crowd, and conversation was difficult because it was so loud you had to shout to be heard.
As I got older, I began to appreciate quieter nights at home where I could hang out with family and good friends, eat in front of the television, and watch the ball drop in Times Square. (By the way, even though I live close to New York City, this is one place I never aspired to spend New Year’s Eve. Hours of waiting in a large crowd, sometimes in the frigid cold, was not my idea of a good time.)
My friends and I soon realized that spending time with each other and our spouses and reminiscing about good times, while staying cozy and warm, was one of the best ways to spend this momentous occasion. I knew we would be making new memories with each other in the next 12 months and hopefully would be together again at the end of it to celebrate once again.
Now, several years later, I’m happy if I can stay up until midnight. It’s not that I’m old; at least I don’t think I am. It’s just that I prefer to go to bed early.
So, when I do fall asleep before 12:00, my husband will wake me up before the ball drops to zero to wish me a good year and give me a goodnight kiss. For me, this is the perfect way to both end and start a new year.
“Here’s a toast to the future, a toast to the past, and a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant, the past a bright dream; may our friends remain faithful and dear.” — Anonymous
Written for The Country Register – distributed across the U.S. and Canada.