Saturday Stories: Celebrating a New Year

I am just going to say this at the onset of this post.  I am an extremely boring person.  So is my husband.  New Year’s Eve has never been an exciting, fun filled evening.  Living in the western United States, we could watch the ball drop in NYC at 9pm, look at each other and say “Happy New Year” head off to bed.  Then, three hours later, when midnight hit and all of the neighbors lit off fireworks, we’d wake up a bit grumpy and mumble “Happy New Year” once more.  Not doing anything has become more of a tradition than anything else.

When 1999 turned into 2000, we decided to make more of a production.  Our sons were 5, 3, 1 and 1.  We knew they wouldn’t be able to stay up much past their 7pm bedtimes, so we invited another family over who also had young children.  We served hors d’oeurvres and bubbly apple juice in plastic cups.  We played silly games with the kids and laughed a lot as the 9 o’clock hour approached.  Then, we turned on the television just before the hour.  We made a huge production of counting down the hour and then we broke out the noise makers and yelled “Happy New Year!!”  Our young sons had no idea that they hadn’t stayed up until midnight and that the new year was still three hours away.

After waiting about 10 minutes to make sure that we had made it a fun event for the kids,  we said good bye to our friends and good night to our children.  We cleaned up the celebratory mess and then, yes, you got it, the Good Guy and I went to sleep.  I remember there being more fireworks than usual that year.  We woke up, looked at the digital clock to  make sure that the power was still on (you remember those ridiculous Y2K predictions, right?) and then went back to sleep.

Even when we celebrate, we are boring.

My parents, however, have been social butterflies as long as I can remember.  I grew up with the big parties being held at my house.  I had to be in my room during the parties.  Sometimes, Dad would bring in the old black and white TV so I could watch television while the party went on.  Around 9 or 10, my parents would come back to my room and tell me it was time to go to sleep.  As if I could sleep with all of the laughter filling the house!  My parents’ parties were never quiet.  As well as being a phenomenal cook, Mom was also a master game and party organizer.

Weeks before the parties, Mom would sit down with Dad and make up a guest list.  She’d also run by a list of appetizers she wanted to serve.  Then, after the food was taken care of, Mom would get out her party game books and start planning the entertainment.   There were always games at my parents’ parties.  Some games were pure silliness like having people eat a bunch of saltines and then trying to whistle.  Other games were tricks like “the broom is sweeping, the broom is sweeping, to whom does the broom sweep?”  The guests would then have to figure out who it was (the person who spoke first after the question was asked).  Mom had quite a repertoire of games she could pull out if, heaven forbid, the party got dull.

There was also a lot of music played at my parent’s parties.  Dad had a Sony reel to reel player like this one:

He spent hours recording his LPs onto the reels.  When the party began, he would start the music and not have to tend to it again for hours.  This was one piece of equipment that I never touched.  He had music for all occasions: Christmas, country and western, oldies, classical, you name it.  While Mom tended the buffet, Dad tended the drinks and music.  It worked out very well.  Anyone invited to one of their parties always hinted to be invited again.
They no longer attempt to entertain on the scale that they did when I was little.   Those days are gone, but the memories still bring a smile to all of our faces as we remember silly things that happened.   Because I often sneaked out of my room and peeked at the goings on of those parties (sshh~ don’t tell!)

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