Tonight, the last glimpse of 2017 will fade. Finally, we’ll reach another year, one hopefully better, after this one of stress, change, and contention. It’s really just turning the page of the calendar though, isn’t it? What’s truly “new”? What’s the fun in standing with 2 million people, herded into their places up to 9 hours before midnight, to stand in Times Square, having no ability to leave and reenter? These people are willing to wait there hours and hours for a glimpse of a crystal ball descending from a tower on a night with a forecast of temperatures down below -10F due to the wind chill. Sounds like torture to me, not celebrating. But as my kids might say, “Ma, you’re old.” Not old, just cold.
In the early 1970s when my sisters and I were kids, our parents went out to a New Year’s Eve party. At age 13 or 14, I was left to babysit. Approaching midnight I got the idea to make confetti and noisemakers. We shredded newspaper, first into strips, then into chunks, and filled every every pot and every pan in the house. The TV was on and Dick Clark emceed the excitement. “5-4-3-2-1, Happy New Year!” we screamed, hoisting up the pots, broadcasting shredded paper all over the living room. We banged the bottoms of the cookware with wooden spoons. Bursting through the screen door onto the porch, we continued to bang away and yell our New Year’s cheers into the night.
It was over in minutes and we had a mountain of paper to clean up. The dog happily snuffled around in the shredded mounds, spreading the mess into the dining room. Our banging had permanently dented some of the pots. [I learned years later that our elderly neighbors, the landlord’s brother and sister-in-law, were perturbed by our “wild” behavior, and this incident contributed to our lease not being renewed some time later.] My youngest sister pooped out with the cleanup and fell asleep on the sofa. My other sister and I collected most of the scraps and hid them in the trash. We coolly returned the pots and pans to the kitchen cupboards, hiding the evidence.
When the parents came home, some rogue confetti remained, as we discovered days later while cleaning under furniture and in odd corners. The folks had no idea that we had “celebrated,” too. But for the nagging recollection that Mom used these dented pots for the next 25 years or so, this memory would be lost to the nights when New Year’s Eve was always black & white and Dick Clark ruled the night.