Hot on the heels my favorite holiday season come my least favorites - New Years and Valentine's Day. Even when I'm madly in love, neither holiday lives up to its expectations. And I can't even tell you what those expectations are.
A guy friend and I were talking about this yesterday at work - what would be our ideal New Year's celebration? I don't know. Travel back to the 1930s or 40s and celebrate with dining and dancing to one of the famous bands of the era, wearing a wonderful silvery gown, blowing noise makers and wearing silly hats? Well, OK, that's impossible (I haven't mastered the time-travel thing, dammit). Even then, I bet it wouldn't live up to the images from old movies and newsreels.
When I was little, we spent the evening lighting and swirling our sizzling sparklers around in the front yard. Santa always stuffed our stockings with sparklers just so we'd have something with which to welcome in the New Year. What a party guy! Anyway, we'd sizzle and make a lot of noise with those 1950s-type noisemakers, then flop into bed - completely out of it by the time the clock passed midnight.
I can name only three great New Year's celebrations since childhood - two in Vermont (where we once owned a house) and one during my salad days with Turner Broadcasting. All three were mid-sized affairs - 8-20 people - food, music, laughter. One even included silly hats - that was the requirement to get in: a home-made silly hat (the Turner party, obviously). But apart from the hats, the occasion was really no different from any other gathering of good friends for a meal and a chuckle or two.
Nothing like that planned this year, though. Movie and a meal with a friend, then home before the crazy folks hit the road. Maybe I'll stay up till midnight; maybe I won't. But tomorrow - and upholding a fine Southern tradition - I'll tuck in to my meal of black-eyed peas, turnip greens and wedge of buttery cornbread, hoping the coming year brings health, wealth (I'll settle for comfortable solvency), and a surfeit of loving laughter.
Happy New Year to all. Here's raising a glass and waving a sparkler in your general direction!