A Happy New Year, Safe at Home

New Year's Ball Times SquarePhooey! Only a couple of hours left till midnight, and it’s highly doubtful that I’ll finish my novel, Hope Dawns Eternal, this year. I’ve got one more climactic scene to write, but I’m sorely tempted to switch on the TV and watch the ball drop. If past years are any indication, ABC will cut away from the actual ball with its thousands of Svarowski crystals and focus on Ryan Seacrest or a crowd shot instead. I’ll end up swearing at the stupid editing and wishing Dick Clark were still alive to ring in the New Year.

I’ve been watching that damn ball drop for practically fifty years. Living in Manhattan in the 1960’s, I was too hip to own a TV, much less make the trek to Times Square to be squashed in a crowd of thousands, but I usually ended up at the apartment of some unattached friend who was throwing a party to welcome in the New Year. Invariably I drank too much and welcomed in New Year’s Day with a vicious hangover.

In the nearly forty years I’ve been married, I recall venturing out on New Year’s Eve on only a handful of occasions. New Year's clock midnightBack in the 1990’s, Albany had a First Night celebration with music, dancing and other entertainment in multiple venues, and we went a couple of times. More than anything, I recall the biting wind chill, which felt well below zero, and weeping over a beloved hat I left at the Palace Theater. (I was in a major depression at the time, and I cried at the drop of a hat – literally, on that occasion.)

A decade later, my husband and I read from our novels as part of Saratoga’s First Night. My friend Marilyn Rothstein, aka M.E. Kemp, booked our mystery writers’ group into an art gallery for the night, and as participants, we got free passes. It was a festive night, and the fireworks at midnight were spectacular, but we’re leery of sharing the Northway with a bunch of drunks, so we’ve stayed home ever since.

Anyway, nothing could ever equal the annual New Year’s parties my parents threw in Milwaukee in the 1950’s, beginning sometime in the McCarthy era. My father was Managing Editor of The Milwaukee Journal, and the invitees were a fascinating mix of the city’s intellectual and artistic elite, including lots of journalists. There was singing around the piano, and the liquor flowed copiously practically till dawn of New Year’s Day. In those days, no one had heard of DWI, and yet somehow they all survived.

New Year's Eve Times Square overviewIn the ensuing decades, we’ve grown increasingly austere when it comes to alcohol, or at least my friends and acquaintances have. On the other hand, when I stopped at the local liquor store around five o’clock this evening, the place was more mobbed than I’ve ever seen it, with cars overflowing the available spaces and creating a minor traffic jam. It’s good to know there are still those among us who plan to toast the coming of the New Year.

As I write, I’m sipping some Pinot Noir out of a Corbett Canyon box. I bought it primarily to flavor the beef stew that’s simmering in my Crock Pot. The aroma that’s wafting up through the floor boards is making me ravenously hungry, but it won’t be ready till around 11:00pm, when I’ll be ready to tune in to the festivities on TV. No need to tune in sooner, because the entertainers featured this year are too damn young and over-exposed. I’ve already heard and seen more than enough of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, not to mention Meghan Traynor singing about her big butt and how it’s all about the bass. Elton John is the only star advertised who’s from my generation, but hey, time moves on.

On Christmas after dinner at my daughter’s house, I danced with her, my granddaughters and their friends to a program called “Just Dance,” where the person holding the Wii remote gets scored on how closely they can mimic the moves of the computer-generated dancers on screen. There are dozens of songs to choose from, most of them by new groups I’ve never heard of, but they did have some oldies, like Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and everyone loved that one too. The dance style is that jerky, angular stuff I’ve seen on TV but never attempted before, but it’s great exercise, and I’m tempted to get the program.

The thought of exercise conjures up notions of New Year’s resolutions, but hey, I’m not going there – not tonight. Instead I’m going downstairs for some wine and cheese followed by that stew. And I’ll probably be ready for bed soon after the ball drops.

Have a wonderful New Year’s, everyone, and thanks for reading my blog. See you in 2015.

New Year's cat in basket

6 thoughts on “A Happy New Year, Safe at Home

  1. Hi Julie, Happy New Year! I loved reading this entry on your musings page. I was in bed reading Smithsonian last night at midnight and heard about 20 minutes of fireworks. Don’t know where there was a show but it must have been a good one. I am with you re all the singing groups popular today that I know nothing about. I stopped paying attention to popular music when I was having babies and raising our kids so missed many of the groups you like. I am really out of it re: popular culture and can only guess when a name is asked for in a crossword puzzle. We did go out last night for an early dinner at Armadillo in the Rondout area of Kingston. Ever go there? Then we returned to sit and read and go to bed earlyish. Happy New Year. Keep on writing.

  2. I enjoyed reading your New Year blog post. Your writing is so readable! I laughed at the memories of New Years in New York. I’m in Brooklyn Heights recovering from a small but extremely crazy fun party which ended at 4:45 this morning. We made our own ball and dropped it off the roof. It was filled with notes on what each person wanted to let go. Funny thing is, mine said “nothing!”

  3. We’ve had it, too, with big celebrations & crowds. Our new tradition is to go to Maestro’s for dinner on New Year’s Day with a friend or two. And I don’t have to cook!

  4. Happy New Year, Betsy and Marilyn. Betsy, we went to the Armadillo when we lived in New Paltz. Glad to hear it’s still going. Marilyn, I’m surprised you don’t go to the Saratoga First Night since it’s right next door to you, but hey, we’re all getting older.

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