New Year, Old Traditions
With the Holiday-That-Must-Not-Be-Named behind us for another year, the secular/politically correct/mainstream media world can at last stop using the politically correct “Happy Holidays” and begin wishing us all a specific “Happy New Year.”
With next week’s big celebration in mind, the only time I’ve ever thought it would be fun to live anywhere near the city of Las Vegas is on New Year’s Eve. I mean, if you’re looking for a good time, that place must throw the mother of all parties to ring in the New Year, right? The blinding bright lights, the head-pounding music, the human crush of drunk-out-of-their-skulls party goers … um, never mind.
On second thought, what happens in Vegas can happen to someone else, as far as I’m concerned. Our family’s own New Year traditions have always been much milder and, well, subdued. How mild? Let’s just say they usually involve Dick Clark on the tube, a few minutes pre- and post-midnight standing on our balcony overlooking the Crescenta Valley, a bag of “exploding” confetti poppers and a glass of Martinelli’s non-alcoholic sparkling cider for each of us. But wait, there’s more. If we’re really feeling festive and rowdy any particular year, our big celebration may even include the banging of pots and pans with wooden spoons. I know … woo hoo! We don’t exactly need a doctor’s clearance to participate.
It’s not like we don’t ever socialize, though. The past couple of New Year’s Eves we’ve actually spent the evening with some great friends in Altadena and have enjoyed a wonderful dinner, excellent conversation, a somewhat sedate card game or two and a quick side hug at midnight. Then it’s back home to warm, flannel sheets and hopefully enough sleep to get up early enough to watch those shock-jocks, Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards, do the pulse-quickening play-by-play on yet another Rose Parade. Again, woo hoo!
Lest you think I was born old and boring, I have been known to camp out all day and night along the Rose Parade route on several past New Year’s Eves. Yep, there’s nothing like sitting for days in a broken down lawn chair and “sleeping” on a damp grass median or filthy concrete sidewalk with the soothing lilt of air horns lulling you to sleep and Silly String wafting all around you through the cold night air like flying neon-colored spaghetti.
Then again, being right there when a 200-plus member high school marching band passes by close enough to count the pimples on the tuba-players’ cheeks has always been worth any hypothermia, loss of hearing and superficial wounds inflicted by flying tortillas and stale marshmallows. Good times, indeed.
My all time favorite way to welcome in any New Year, however, is to do it in the mountains above Mammoth Lakes. I like nothing better than to leave the warmth of our family’s log home a few minutes before midnight, walk out into the middle of the street – usually lined with shoulder-high berms of snow at that time of year – and simply gaze up at the inky blackness of the midnight sky while one year ends and another begins. That high up in altitude, the nighttime sky is filled with a blanket of stars that are simply not visible down here in Southern California. As I look up, I like to say thank you to God for the grace that helped me make it through the past year and to pray for His blessings throughout the new one.
Next Monday night, we unfortunately won’t be up in the Sierras or at our friends’ home in Altadena, and thankfully, nowhere near Las Vegas. Barring a surprise invite to a party, we’ll likely be out on the balcony again with our sparkling cider in one hand and a party horn in the other. But the prayers for the coming year will be the same, nevertheless.
Happy New Year, and I’ll see you ’round town.