Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 54 New Year's Eve Celebrations

New Year’s Eve, 2013. What to do? As someone who has endured 54 of these babies, I feel I speak for many when I say…enough already. I am so over this most contrived, ridiculous holiday ever. First, a little history.


I remember nothing. Since I was the youngest child in a household of six which had very little discretionary income, I imagine that Mom and Dad drugged us all with Benadryl hoping to knock us out by 7 so they could get a decent night’s sleep.


The New Orleans/Nicholsville years were equally blurry. With Dad in school and Mom working in the campus print shop, we never saw much of them. However, we did have our first television. I have a vague half-formed memory of watching some sort of ball drop in glorious black and white.


In these years I was introduced to the “watch night service”, a Baptist staple for people who wanted to be in the world but not OF the world. A bunch of families with young children along with stout-hearted blue hairs would all gather at the church around 8 in the evening. A ginormous spread of Baptist cuisine would be laid upon long rows of wooden tables with paper table cloths. There would be hot rolls, fried chicken, potato salad, chicken salad, macaroni salad, macaroni and cheese, green bean casseroles galore, pies and cakes of every description, enough cheese balls to feed an army and enough sweet tea to float a battleship, with nary a drop of alcohol in sight. Board games would be played, lots of family friendly group activities would be planned. There would be a hotly contested bible trivia contest, which my mother would always win. Then, around 15 minutes before midnight everyone would gather in the sanctuary for a big prayer service. By the time the prayers were all said it would be past midnight and the deal was done.


Then I entered my young, single college years when my New Year’s Eve celebrations involved prodigious quantities of adult beverages. This too remains a blur of half-formed memories, most of which I would prefer stayed that way.


Once married, New Year’s Eve began to cost serious money. Before the kids arrived it would involve dressing up nice and going to some pretentiously expensive restaurant with limited menu choices and horrible service.


This magical year found us with a 5 year old and a 3 year old and not coincidently, very little discretionary income. Pam and I plotted a scheme full of deception and trickery whereby we convinced the kids that they would be allowed to stay up to welcome in the New Year. Lies, all lies. We cleverly turned all the house clocks up to eleven o’clock, then allowed them to parade around the house banging pots and pans with wooden spoons. Party favors were handed out to add to the cascade of sounds. The kids had that wide-eyed look that kids get when they think that they are getting away with something. Then we had the fake count down, threw confetti, hugged and kissed each other, then whisked them off to bed where they collapsed into a deep exhausted sleep…all by 8:15.  Bruhahahahahaha!!!


Thus began the era of the Dunnevant New Year’s Eve extravaganza. We would invite 6 or 7 couples who also had young children to our house for a night of games, crafts, food, movies, noise parades and watching the ball actually drop with no clock fixing chicanery. Pam was at her teacher/organizer best. I remember these years clearly as they were easily the most fun I’ve ever had on New Years Eve. The guest list would include people like the Baldwins, the Keslers, the Mcmaths, the Thomason’s and the Stroups. Great times.


These were the youth group years, the years consumed by the locust. Our house would be filled with 30-40 teenagers complete with gangly arms and legs, huge appetites, lots of zits and plenty of drama. Very fun times, but costly both in terms of money and wear and tear on the furniture. At the dropping of the ball, all 40 would be stuffed into our family room armed with handfuls of handmade confetti. The out of control boys,(Tyler Pegues and Matt Watson, I’m talking to YOU), would begin jumping up and down in rhythm to the point where the entire house would shake. Then the confetti would fly. Exhausting though it was, I always remember the fond memories that would fill out house the first hot day of the summer when we would turn on the ceiling fan for the first time, showering us with left over confetti. I still miss those kids, every one.


No little ones, no teenagers, no watch night services, but plenty of discretionary income. Now the goal is always avoiding the crowds, dodging drunk drivers and finding a decent meal. Maybe we should return to the days of clock manipulation, pretend that we’ve had a spectacular evening of crazed celebration, then collapse into bed by 11 o’clock!

I’m open to suggestions.