New Year’s Eve

By Erika Hoffman

New Year’s Eve – it’s to twenty-something bachelors and bachelorettes what Christmas is to Santa-loving tots – a time of anticipation, of excitement, of satisfaction, of wild dreams and unbridled passion. So what’s NYE for the rest of us?

Usually, I watch the speckled ball drop in Times Square via television. My tradition of whom I watch it with and where I view it varies from year to year. Five years ago, I sipped ginger ale with my aged dad as we sat side by side on my sofa. In his demented state, I’m not sure he understood what was happening on TV, but he enjoyed munching on potato chips and onion dip, crunching honey-roasted peanuts and keeping loneliness at bay with his daughter snuggled beside him, all safe and secure.

In 2001, my family watched the ball’s descent in Times Square – not virtually, but actually. Luke Lucas, a foreign exchange student from Melbourne, Australia, who resided with us, wanted to go to the city that never sleeps. So, we packed up the RV with our teens, him and one son’s girlfriend and headed up I-95 through rain, sleet and snow. I recall that NYE. We were corralled in barricades. Everyone spoke a foreign tongue. All these young tourists ordered pizza as they stood waiting and freezing. With no place to relieve oneself, middle-aged me soon wearied of this adventure. I left our Greek Australian exchange student, my 15 year old daughter, a son and his girlfriend shivering in the pen. My husband, another son and I hiked to the Waldorf Astoria where I met up with a pal from home, who was staying there. In her ample warm room, from comfy armchairs we watched the Waterford crystal bedecked ball drop – on the tube.

Now our kids are grown, gone and practicing their own NYE celebrations elsewhere. On the eve of 2017, I asked my hubby, “You want to do something tonight?”

“Nah,” he replied.

The phone rang. A girlfriend asked me if we’d like to dine at a nearby Chinese restaurant with her and her spouse.

“How’d you know we didn’t have plans?” I teased.

“Took a wild guess!” she answered. Like us, they’re baby boomers, children of the greatest generation.

We four took our seats at Asian Moon. A thin Asian waiter about our age, with a wry smile, stepped up to our table.

“I’m Willie,” he said.

“Hello, Willie,” we all chimed.

“Willie Wonka,” he explained.

“Hello, Willie Wonka,” we said in unison.

“You all want some drinks?” Willie Wonka queried.

“Sure.  And water too.”

“Sky Juice?”

We smiled. He tried to entertain us.

The plum wine with plump plums in the bottom of the bottle, the tempura appetizer of shrimp, the calamari, the egg rolls, the hibachi steak and scallops tasted scrumptious, and Willie Wonka provided prompt, happy service and many napkins.

We four gabbed. We reminisced. We hashed out concerns. We commented on future plans. We relaxed, feeling safe and secure. And I understood once more, it’s not pyrotechnics, lip syncing performances by scantily clad starlets, champagne flowing among outrageous antics that make the eve of a New Year successful.

It’s Auld Lange Syne.

“And there is a hand, my trusty friend, and give us a hand of yours…” Robert Burns accurately wrote two and a quarter centuries ago.

Recalling those friends of long ago and reveling in the present company of good buddies, that’s what makes an evening special, fun and worth remembering.

Ours was.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman

    Erika Hoffman

    Erika Hoffman writes stories and essays about her life. She also teaches a course on penning non-fiction narratives, hoping others will find the same satisfaction she does in this vocation/avocation.

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13 Responses to “New Year’s Eve”

  1. tom krombach says:

    Very well written, soothing piece. Interesting references to family changes and Hubby
    I know him well

  2. Rose Ann says:

    Oh, how I can relate! That first year with nothing “special” to do put me into a panic. What did it mean that I didn’t want to do all those things that used to be exciting? You answered that question beautifully–wonderful essay. Wishing you (an early) Happy New Year filled with good memories, good friends and really good food!

  3. Jane W says:

    So good! Love Erika’s personal connections!!
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Carol Trejo says:

    Your story hits home. The kids are leaving and I don’t have the desire to go out and fight the crowds. Nice to know I am not alone! Happy New Year!

  5. Sally says:

    I was the pal from home in 2001. Although we did watch the ball drop on tv, we actually were in NYC, so it was a notch above. Probably the epitome of excitement for me today!

  6. Ann says:

    It’s fun reading how other folks spend New Year’s Eve. My husband and I used to attend a church service to thank God for the old year and welcome the new. Now, a 10 pm bedtime claims these old folks, no matter the date. Distant sounds of fireworks drift into our dreams to let us know the calendar has changed.

  7. Elaine Crigler says:

    What a nice story! Reminds me of the NYE several years ago that we had a party here with a 9 PM celebration of NYE at which time we all blew horns and lit sparklers and kissed. Now we are like Erika and her father…will snuggle on the couch in front of the TV and go to bed at 8 PM.

  8. Sheila says:

    Erika’s story is so true for me now, too. Thanks for the vivid recollection.

  9. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your story made me smile, as I have been through the stages: party hardy, and hardly party.

  10. Cora says:

    Amen! The “right” way to celebrate New Year’s Eve is to spend it with people who mean something to you, doing something you enjoy. All the hype is not what it’s cracked up to be!

  11. Ann says:

    Erika, what a lovely piece about ringing in 2017 — warm and nostalgic. I hope you have another spontaneous celebration for 2018. Cheers!

  12. Susie K. Park says:

    Planning to spend NYE at our daughter’s house.
    Forgot how we spent the last year, so it will be a new experience, but most likely she will tuck me in bed 8:30 as usual. But enjoyed reading about Erika’s.

  13. margaret says:

    Unlike many of the comments, I’m not quite ready to give up the NYE celebration in favor of bed or TV. I agree though, it’s best to spend it with those who mean the most to us, family and friends. Those who have shared the last year(s) with us and who will continue to be with us, either in person or spirit, as the years go by. This has become our tradition and I look forward to doing the same this year. Thanks Erika for reminding me why we celebrate the occasion!

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