I'm having a hard time believing Christmas is past and we're launching into 2011. My mind isn't adjusting to how fast the days seem to be moving. This morning, my mind takes me back to past New Year's Eves - I don't know what made these memories pop into my head, but I thought I'd capture them.
These days, our New Year's Eve consists of staying in as a family and having what our son calls "make up dinner." I guess it's made up because it's not cooked. We feast on smoked salmon, smoked oysters, cheeses and spreads, caviar, olives, crackers and fruit. The grownups have champagne and the not-quite-grownup has sparkling cider. It's been our tradition for close to 20 years. We've been at it so long it will probably remain our tradition forever, even after the not-quite-grownup has grown up and left home.
I remember the first New Year's Eve after I went to college. I was home on winter break, and my cousin invited me to a big party. I don't remember where the party was held, but it was a very nice venue and there were several hundred people there. I enjoyed seeing many friends from high school, and we spent the time catching up and dancing. Near midnight, I ran into my boyfriend from 10th grade. He lived much farther from school than I did, but he'd often skip the bus and walk me home, carrying my books. And his. Ours had been a sweet, innocent romance consisting mostly of talks standing by the mailbox and a little hand holding. We had never kissed. I didn't see him much my junior and senior years of high school. Ours was a large school, and we didn't have many classes together. I was enjoying catching up with him and dancing. We danced several dances in a row, and we were on the dance floor at the stroke of midnight. All the dancers stopped dancing to count down, and for some reason, Gene took me in his arms and kissed me. It was a sweet, wonderful kiss followed by another and then another. We both wondered aloud why we'd never kissed when we were in 10th grade. Not long after, the party ended and people began to leave. Gene and I said our goodbyes and shared one goodbye kiss. That New Year's Eve was more than 30 years ago, and I haven't seen Gene since. I went back to Pensacola for only a few months after graduation and then began my Air Force adventure in Colorado. I didn't make the one reunion, the 10th, I know my graduating class had, a reunion Gene organized. By that time, I was in Maryland. I always thought I'd make the 25 year reunion, but I never heard of one being organized. I'm still in touch with a few high school friends back in Florida. I've never asked about Gene, but I hope he's happy. Thinking about that New Year's Eve always makes me smile.
When I was a very small girl, about 9 or 10, my mom and dad would go out for New Year's Eve, and I would stay with my Big Mama. I always loved staying with her, and New Year's Eve was no exception. I don't remember much of what we did, but I do remember we would stay up until midnight. Although everyone used the back door at her house, at midnight, we'd go out onto her tiny front porch and listen to the church bells ring. I think every church in town rang their bells at midnight, and it was a wondrous sound. We would listen until they stopped ringing and then go back inside. When I was 12, Big Mama passed away. I wasn't ready for my times with her to end, and it was years before I could think of her without tears. This New Year, I think of her and smile. She gave me so many wonderful memories. I just wonder if they have church bells in Heaven.
Where ever you are, I hope your New Year is happy. Go make some memories.