Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

By Jeffery Cohen

 “Happpppyyy New Year!”

It isn’t just some sort of traditional holiday exclamation. It’s a declaration of hope – a chance to begin a fresh new year with a clean slate. Oh sure, there are fluted glasses of champagne, boxes of noisemakers, funny party hats. And through the storm of confetti and the downpour of streamers, after all of the kissing and hugging, we have the chance of a new year, and with it, a litany of promises we hope to keep.

“I swear. This year I’m going to lose weight.” This was my mother’s New Year’s resolution . . . every year, which was always instantly followed by, “This year I really mean it.” And she did lose weight… every year. The only problem was, around February 14th, when heart-shaped boxes of Valentine’s candy started rolling in, the weight she lost… she found, all over again.

My father made his same annual resolution. “I promise, I’m going to stay awake past twelve this New Year’s Eve.”

My brothers and I would roll our eyes in disbelief, as my father’s eyelids would begin to droop and, true to form, shortly before the clock struck midnight Dad was out like a light. He just never showed the same enthusiasm for New Year’s Eve that my mother had. In fact, we were lucky if we could even wake him up at twelve o’clock. For a guy who normally stayed up until the wee hours watching his favorite baseball team get their last “at bats” on TV, he was never quite able to usher in a new year. With a wife and three kids, a rough job and hard times, it was as if my father just didn’t want to face another new year. The old year had been tough enough.

I think I made my first resolution in 1958, after becoming completely enamored with rock and roll and Elvis Presley. “I swear I’ll never cut my sideburns off,” I faithfully swore. A short time later, “The King” was drafted into the service and had his head shaved in boot camp. I amended my resolution. “I swear, I’ll never go into the army . . . or to the barber, ever again!” I think I used the same resolution in 1968.

There was always something special about New Year’s Eve to me and my family. As we sat in front of the ten inch screen of the old Zenith black and white television, we would count down the last seconds of the old year with thousands of strangers who had gathered in Times Square. As the illuminated ball finally reached the bottom of the tower above everyone’s head . . . Happpyyy New Year!

My mother would rock merrily on her turquoise swivel chair, a glass of Cherry Kijafa in hand, toasting to her family and to the peace in the world she hoped for. My brothers and I joined in by clinking clunky little shrimp cocktail glasses that my mother collected, their ginger ale splashing in puddles on the linoleum floor. While Dad snored on, we would head out onto the front lawn where we banged metal pot lids with wooden spoons, screaming until we were hoarse. “Happyyy New Yearrrr.” My father had his own noise maker. “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”

In 1970, I was 21 years old, and finally old enough to drink. I prepared to tie one on for my first “real” New Year’s celebration. A buddy and I sat in his mother’s kitchen where we mixed liquors that had no right to be on the same shelf next to each other, let alone in the same glass. We drank until dawn without ever really getting around to a New Year’s resolution. Not one that we could remember anyway. Then again, there wasn’t much we could remember from that night. It took four days before I could come up with a resolution. It took that long for my young head to stop pounding. “I swear, I’ll never drink again,” I moaned, again and again.

Over the years, I’ve shared a lot of New Year’s Eves with people that I love. We’ve hugged and toasted and blown horns, and on some occasions, even gotten out the old pot tops and wooden spoons and headed out to the front lawn to celebrate with our neighbors. I always hope for a better year, no matter how good the last one was. But these days, when I hear the melody of “Auld Lang Syne” drifting into a party from a TV left on in the next room, I know there’s no Guy Lombardo standing at the bandstand the way he did when I was a kid. There’s no Dad, snoring on the couch anymore – no Mom leading us in song to the strains of Guy’s Royal Canadians. And I can’t help but find myself wondering, should old acquaintance be forgot?

I hope not . . . ever.

About this writer

  • Jeffery Cohen Freelance writer and newspaper humor columnist, Jeffery Cohen, has written for Sasee, Lifetime and Read, Learn, Write. He’s won awards in Women-On-Writing Contest, Vocabula’s Well Written Contest, National League of American Pen Womens’ Competition, Southern California Genealogy Competition, and Writer’s Weekly writing contest.

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One Response to “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    This was certainly a wonderful relatable trip down memory lane.

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