When I was a kid in the 1960s, my sister and I had our very own New Year's Eve tradition. Every December 31st on the stroke of midnight, we'd duck out of the party our folks usually threw to dial the operator and wish her a Happy New Year. We always felt sorry that she had to work and miss all the excitement.
These days, at midnight on New Year's Eve my sister and I are usually sleeping soundly in our respective beds. But this year I began to wonder whether I was now the one who was missing out on all the excitement. So I asked my Facebook friends what they would be doing this New Year's Eve.
The first response?
Every New Year's Eve I bake bread. I like to put the loaves in the oven one year and take them out the next. I've been doing this for 27 years.
The next reply I got was just as good:
I'll be celebrating my 60th birthday!
Then I heard from my friend Janet:
I'm having a special New Year's Eve this year. I'll be babysitting 6-month-old Rachel, my honorary grandbaby.
Clearly, my friends are going to be having fun. Although some, like me, were headed for bed:
As usual I expect that Mr. and Mrs. Excitement will be falling asleep on the couch in front of the TV at 10 PM, waiting for the Times Square ball to drop. After midnight we'll realize we missed it, get up, turn off the TV, wish each other a happy New Year and go back to sleep in our real bed.
New Year's Eve? Ambien does the trick for me!
But most of my pals will be celebrating. Their plans involve a mix of friends, family and food:
For the past 10 years, my best friend and I have cooked up a massive paella and shared it with our friends.
We've had dinner with the same friends for seventeen years. This year it's at their place and we always stay over.
We hold a progressive dinner with other neighborhood couples. We're at the top of the hill so we usually start it with appetizers, then on to the next house for salad, then the entrée. We end up at the final house for desert and to ring in the New Year.
We get together with a group of other families and rent a local skating rink.
We're going to the wedding of a friend's daughter with some of our oldest and closest friends. Perfect!
Here in Vienna we ring in the New Year with fireworks, which we view from a top floor balcony with friends. It is an awe-inspiring display. And last year, our friends' son serenaded everyone with Auld Lang Syne on the trumpet.
This year we're hosting ten of our sons' friends for the night. More than a ball may drop.
Some couples have created their own special traditions:
My hubby and I have never been big party people. So we always go skiing on New Year's Eve. There's hardly anyone else on the slopes!
For us, it's pink champagne and monopoly until the ball drops
The two of us watch the same movie every year. "The Days of Wine and Roses."
We're having pizza, a tradition that began the year we were married, when we surprised my mom on New Year's Eve only to find that she was going to a party. The next year found us at a hotel in China where we happened to order pizza. Once we realized what we'd done, it became an annual tradition. Going on 27 years.
Some nice music, a fire, a glass or two of wine, a little pasta. Maybe a vintage movie. A prosecco cork popping at midnight as jazz plays softly. Pretty boring by most standards but just fine... and quiet.
The best thing about living in New York City? A stroll through Central Park on New Year's Eve.
Folk have a variety of rituals with which to welcome the upcoming year:
We always open the door at midnight to let the New Year in.
In the South, we shoot guns into the air.
The tallest male has to go out the back door just before midnight and back in the front door at the stroke of the New Year. It's an old Welsh tradition to remove evil spirits from the home and bring in luck for the new year.
When I was a kid our family always beat pots and pans to stop the bad spirits from leaving the old year, and my dad blew a horn. I no longer have the horn, but the pots and pans? Absolutely! My neighbors always know it's me.
We write our predictions for the upcoming year and seal them in an envelope. Next New Year's Eve, we'll open the envelope.
A fortunate few will greet 2015 on the beach:
For the past 25 years, I've put my feet in the sand on New Year's Eve... on the beach at Fort Myers.
I'll be celebrating on the beach with my California kids this year!
Still, not everyone is planning on having a great time:
New Year's Eve? It's the sourest, most disappointing evening of the year, unless you're a long-term happily married couple. I make it my mission to go to bed before the ball drops.
I won't be celebrating. I have to work.
This holiday season is a sad one for me. I just may ignore it altogether.
But one neighbor, thankfully, has plenty to celebrate:
Last year I suffered from a severe postpartum depression and my best friends became my family. So this year we're celebrating life together by making a gourmet feast and being thankful that I made it through the year, as we were not certain that I would. It will be fun and festive. Twelve best friends grateful to be dining together.
And for one lucky couple, there's marriage in the air:
Getting married on New Year's Eve has long been a dream of ours that finally came together. I am Russian and in Russia we have a superstition -- the way you celebrate the New Year is the way the rest of your year will be. Judging from our plans, 2015 should be full of cake and champagne.
Will the final moments of 2014 once again find me dozing? Or will the example of my friends inspire me to stay up and celebrate?
Either way, here's wishing for a 2015 full of cake and champagne for all of us.
(First published by Womens Voices For Change.)