When I was in my late teens and early twenties, December 31 was a night full of potential. It was full of hope and promise, and it was billed to be the best night of the year. Somehow, for over a decade, I searched elusively for that perfect night. Here are some examples:
1993-1994: When I was 18 and a senior in high school, I spent New Year's Eve at Sea World in Orlando. I was performing in the halftime show of the Citrus Bowl the next day. It was a cold and rainy night, and we rang in the new year watching fireworks from outside the park, waiting to board the bus.
1994-1995: (my freshman year in college) I spent New Year's Eve at First Night Albany (remember that Anne?). It was again raining, and Albany was a lot colder than Orlando. After the excitement of college, First Night Albany was very tame. And cold.
1995-1996: (my sophomore year in college) I was up at University of New Hampshire with my college roommate. It was actually a very good night, and we spent the first day of 1996 in recliner's in her parents' house, unable to move from all the fun we'd had the night before.
1996-1997: (my junior year in college) I returned back to college early so my roommates and I could attend a party. The night ended with a bloody guy on the steps of our building, and a call from the police about it. Luckily, it was none of us, and we never really found out what happened. Our night was ok, but at least we weren't bleeding.
1997-1998: (my senior year in college) my ex-boyfriend and I went out with his roommate and girlfriend. It was about 10 degrees in Boston, and I distinctly remember literally freezing walking around. The highlight of the night was accidentally opening my ex-boyfriend's other roommate's bottle of Dom Peringon (there were several bottles in the fridge, and we didn't realize that this one was special, or worth about $200).
1998-1999: (grad school) I was home and went out with my brother and his friends. Highlight of the night was seeing Matt's band play.
1999-2000: This should have been a special one. I was in Florida with friends from college. We had all graduated and were out in the real world, most of us as of yet unsuccessful in finding PT jobs. We were heading to Ybor City, and our limo was very late in arriving. Ybor City was crowded and chaotic, and I missed entering the new millennium. I remember looking at my watch and it was about 2 minutes until midnight. Next time I looked, it was about 2 minutes after. The biggest countdown of my life and I missed it. Oh, and the limo left us stranded there for hours.
2000-2001: Pat and I were together for this one. We were all dressed up and going to a First Night Celebration in Columbus. The hotel was crowded, and the lines were long. Our friend bought a bottle of very very sweet champagne to split. Drinking it made you feel like you wanted to shave your teeth.
Some of the next years kind of blur together. Of note, we spent the first night in our house on New Year's Eve 2003-2004. I was seven months pregnant with Jake. We had not yet moved all our furniture in, so our mattress and box spring were on the floor in the baby's room, while we finished the floors in our bedroom. Our TV was on top of a box, and being that low to the ground made it difficult to get up out of bed to go to the bathroom, as was needed multiple times per night. We watched the movie Angel Heart, and flipped over just in time to see the ball drop.
With young kids, it's been difficult. A lot of times, it's more pressure to go out than it's worth. There is all this build up, and, as described above, the evening rarely lives up to the hype.
Plus, it's cold. Let's not forget the cold.
For the past few years, Pat has slept while I waited up for the new year to ring in. I luckily have a friend whose husband does the same thing, and we spend the evening texting each other.
This year, we didn't even attempt to make plans. We took the kids bowling today, and went to the library with them. We did a family market run and, despite the crowded-ness of Hanniford, it went very well. Pat and I made fondue, which his family had always had for New Year's Eve. When it was ready, we sat around the coffee table and enjoyed the fondue, just the four of us. We talked about high points of the year (end of First Grade for Jake, Christmas for Sophia), as well as low points (losing Mimere). We talked about our resolutions. Everyone helped clean up the coffee table, and then we played a family game of Battleship.
So there are about 4 hours left in the year. There won't be a champagne (Dom Peringon or otherwise) toast at midnight. I may not even stay up that late this year. But I can say, I think I finally found the perfect New Year's Eve.
I wish everyone a healthy, safe and happy new year! See you in 2012!