This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

December 23, 2009

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 3:35 pm

So asks the song. As I listen to it this year (Ledisi’s wonderful version) I am alarmed that it has been years since I have “done” anything special to ring in the new year.

There was a time when I would plan for weeks in advance for the event.

One year, when my and the now-spouse’s relationship was young, we went out partying at a swanky hotel with several other couples. Before going out, we gathered at one couple’s house and everyone made a toast. One guy made a particularly moving toast to his then-girlfriend. Something is up with those two, I told my husband. I think he’s going to propose to her tonight. My husband poo-poo’ed that notion—“Nah, he’s not that type of brother.” What “type” would that be, I demanded. “Umm, another glass of champagne, dear?”

Later that night at some point the two of them disappeared. We later found them by the huge Christmas tree in the lobby—him looking relieved, and her crying her eyes out with a giant rock on the fourth finger of her left hand. He had hidden the ring in an ornament hanging on the tree. I do not know if he was more relieved that she said yes or that the ornament with ring had not been been swiped.

Another year my husband and I, strapped for plans, went to a fraternity party. It was…interesting. This was the party hosted by the older, not younger, members of the fraternity. Besides seeing my aunt and uncle there, we also got a chance to sip champagne and dance the night away with our high school advanced placement English teacher. Seeing the woman who taught me how to diagram sentences tipsy and doing some combination of the Hustle and Richard Simmons work out is not something I wish to see again. Ever.

One year when I was home for the holiday break from college in Boston, some friends and I drove up to Chicago to party. I was looking cuter than I ever had looked in my life. Normally not a fashionista, I had actually taken time to carefully choose an outfit that revealed enough to say “Maybe…” while at the same time declaring “…but not so fast.” I was ready: dressed to impress and ready to mingle. We went to two parties, each time having to walk in the frigid night from the car to the locale. My pump-clad feet were killing me. The wind was whipping my body in its lightweight (but very cute) coat to shreds. At the second party, around elevenish, we got a tip about where we just absolutely had to go. I was outvoted 4 to 1. We went back outside, walked a couple of miles, piled into the car, and—through a series of mistaken routes in this pre-GPS era—finally made it. I elected to stay inside the car. I rang in the new year with the radio—and the car heater—on full blast.

Many years later when the kids were small, the Mister gave up his New Year’s Eve to work in the hospital so that the single folks could go out and party. In return, he had been home with us Christmas Eve. An hour before midnight, I strapped the girls into the car and we drove to the hospital. The kids were so excited to hear their Daddy’s name over the loudspeaker. He came into the waiting era, completely surprised, and gave us all big hugs. I got a midnight kiss from him right there in front of everyone. Which is something because my spouse is not, generally speaking, that “type” of brother.

Most other years recently we have just spent time together as a family. Those years that nothing “special” happened are just a timeless montage in my memory. Playing board games or watching movies…The novelty, for my young daughters, of staying up until midnight…Their joy at sipping sparkling apple juice from our wedding champagne flutes…My husband and I reminiscing together over the aging acts performing on one televised New Year’s Eve special or another….

I guess I take it back. Every year when the evening of December 31 rolls around I am “doing” something. Something very “special.” Granted, my younger self in the sexy dress, high heels, and non-sensible coat would probably be appalled to see what my New Year’s Eve festivities have come to.

But the today me—I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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