Our first year of being married we invited another couple over for movies, games, and general cheer. I didn’t really know the couple well, the guy was some acquaintance of J’s who he’d felt sorry for. Apparently the wife had graduated from high school that May and they’d been married that summer. The husband, the chain smoker, and frequent perpetrator of retail theft, had even driven back to Iowa to take her to prom the year before. They would be divorced soon. I don’t need to tell you what scintillating conversationalists they were. We had an upstairs landlady who was a little…high strung. Whatever she was doing upstairs that New Year's was really loud, so we (OK it was J because I wouldn’t do such a thing) hit the ceiling a few times as a kind of “Hey, you’re being loud.” A few seconds later she was at our door screaming at us about hitting the ceiling and how if we ever did that again she’d have us out of that apartment.
The following year Anne’s husband was away in Scotland for the holidays. She came over on New Year's and we beaded a blessing gown and cap for her brand new niece. Let me tell you, there is a reason we pay eight year old Indonesian children to hand bead clothing. It is backbreaking work. At midnight we opened the door according to Scottish tradition, drank something that was not whiskey, remembered Robbie Burns, and planned the next Jacobite rebellion…or something like that.
The year we partied like it was the end of 1999 (because it was) I spent with Anne* at an Official New Year's Party. It was at a History Professor’s home (one who I would eventually come to know in the program.) The house was crawling with academics (just like I like it.) We were dressed for the occasion and the food/company was marvelous. I remember this party for two reasons:
1) We went around the room taking turns to make predictions about the new Millennium. I hit the comedic nadir of my life when I predicted:
a) Trouble in the Balkans-- Let me tell you, nothing is as funny as predicting trouble in the Balkans to a bunch of history professors. (Although, the timing of the emergence of the Middle-Class is also hilarious, hahaha, what fun.)
b) Revolutions in Africa
c) A communist rising to power in South America.
Thank you! Try the veal!
2) I hit a low point in my history of party storytelling when I regaled a few people, who were sharing travel stories, with the tale of my husband peeing off of the Eiffel Tower.
a) Even though I warned the participants that the following story would be “gauche” they listened anyway.
b) I thought it was a hilarious story full of Franco-mocking fun. I ignore the 'warning' eyes Anne is shooting at me.
c) Apparently it was an extremely inappropriate story and they were not amused. They probably still think I’m tacky.
In accordance to the “Real Millennium” debate that Kramer, Jerry, and Newman once held, the following year I held a “Real Millennium” dinner party. This is the dinner party that morphed into a giant. I had invited three couples for a formal dress sit down dinner with seven courses. It turned into a sit down dinner for 24 in my condo. The entire living room was occupied by a horseshoe table into which my guests were sardined. I cried on Joe’s shoulder when I realized that I had to give in and serve the courses buffet style. It turned out to be an amazing affair with perfect food, fantastic conversation, and a great time had by all. This was my zenith in in-home entertaining. We did predictions again. I tried the Balkan joke, again, it didn’t go over (shoulda left on a high note.)
The next year I spent in San Francisco with my sweetie.
I don’t even remember the following year.
Two years ago I had a brand new baby (a week old) and it was just the three of us, at home. J asked me if I wanted to be awakened for midnight and I said with the full fever of sleep deprivation, “Huh? Oh. Uh. No. What?” He poked his head in the room anyway and said, “Happy New Year! I love you!”
Last year we rolled in the door from a cross country visit in Florida with the in-laws. Two hours to spare. We toasted with some Mormon Bubbly (we may have each had our own bottle) and then crashed from the baby-wrangling exhaustion we endured on the plane.
This year we spent over at some friends’ home. I was going to throw a small, relaxed dinner party at home. Then I couldn't be bothered. Instead, we ran the kids ragged, ate lots of simple, yet tasty food, put the kids down, and watched a movie. We toasted at midnight and watched the fireworks out the window. Great conversation, lots of laughs, some laments; a relaxed time.
I thought about how 2005 was an OK year and it would be sad to let it go. Then I remembered some of the hard stuff: my mom’s cancer, laying people off, friend’s parents dying. It was a hard year and I’m not sad to let it go. There were good things, of course: cancer gone, for now, new friends, new chances. However, there are lots of things about the year that I’m happy are now The Past. Onwards and upwards for the coming year, may it be better than the last: more sweetness, more joy, more simplicity, and more love. Oh, and more Balkan jokes.
*At this point in my writing I realize that I have spent more New Year's with Anne than with any other person, including my spouse.