GAYS MILLS - I was listening to a comedian on NPR, complain about New Year’s Eve—she didn’t understand why everyone gets all gussied up and glittery to go out and about on the town. As she put it, nothing really changes after midnight except you have to remember to change the number of the year when you’re writing checks.
To her I say, pooh-pooh. It may just because I am a lover of most things festive, but I’ve always found New Year’s Eve a good excuse to get fancy.
To be clear, on a regular basis, I am a pretty basic hillbilly lady. I do not know how to contour my cheekbones nor draw on my eyebrows (as a thick browed girl naturally, it’s a fad I don’t understand.) In fact, anymore in my motherly state, I forget to even look close enough in the mirror to find all of the rogue hairs. And when I do, I squeal to Chasca, “How could you let me leave the house this way!?” His response is usual a simple shrug and “I thought you knew.”
When I was younger, my aunts and uncles and parents all would get exceptionally fancy and go out to dinner and dancing for New Year’s Eve. My dad would slick back his hair and bust out his fancy cowboy boots that hurt his toes, but looked nice. My mom would cast aside her Green Bay Packers sweatshirt and comfy pants and don a long, usually dark purple dress and her finest flats.
All of us kids would usually be dropped off to be put in the care of our Grandpa Ray. Armed with shrimp cocktail and bubbly grape juice (complete with plastic champagne flutes) we were ready to ring in the New Year.
One particularly memorable year for everyone I’m sure was good ol’ Y2K—that was the millennial New Year’s Eve of December 31, 1999. My parents weren’t going to let a little doomsday possibilities ruin their one fancy night out so they proceeded to dump us off at Grannie and Grampies.
A couple of my cousins were there to complete the madness and my parents had even sprung for some festive plastic hats and Y2K paper glasses and noise makers. I think we even got a small cheese tray in addition to our shrimp. We were livin’ the dream.
Another under appreciated aspect of the New Years is the fact there is ALWAYS a marathon on the television of the Twilight Zone. Thanks to many New Years parties, I’ve come to appreciate and know nearly every episode. It’s also helped me realize that many Halloween episodes of ‘The Simpsons; are based off of Twilight Zone episodes. The more you know.
This particular year my Grandma had had enough of us kids being rambunctious early on in the night and retired to bed. Leaving us to get wild and crazy with Grandpa.
This actually meant eating until we got stomachaches and dressing the ever-beleaguered Pomeranian dog, Cricket, up in the New Year’s Eve finest and posing with him for photos. Grandpa even dug an old bottle out of his archives from when my mom and her sisters were young, and they also drank bubbly grape juice. They signed it with the year and my grandpa hung onto it, along with many others I’m sure. When we finished our bottle, he had us do the same and tucked it away safely. It is probably still in his garage to this day.
This year, I had big plans for New Year’s Eve. My baby is hardly a baby anymore and well old enough to be away from mom and dad for a night. We recruited his beloved Great Grandparents and got on board to go to dinner with the rest of my family.
The previous drinks, dancing and good fest of yore has been condensed to the last night out of the holidays before we all depart and do not see each other again until the spring thaw around Easter.
This year, we descended upon the Old Oak Inn in Soldiers Grove. They tucked us away in the Peacock Room by the kitchen.
My cousin who did not bring his baby last year did this year, mainly because Thatcher was there before, and he didn’t want Zayne to be left out. Watching them with a crabby, tired toddler reminded us we totally made the right choice leaving Thatcher in LaFarge. We ate our meals with two hands, we talked, we laughed and we didn’t have to wrestle anyone into a car seat in the bitter cold. It was most excellent.
All whipped up on stuffed chicken breast and half of a Bloody Mary, I proclaimed we would continue this night in style! We would party to the break of dawn like we were 23 again! Woooo!
We made it to Readstown and both drank one bottle of beer before deciding that we were old, and we were tired, and our squishy couch and Netflix sounded a whole lot better.
No complaints from me however, as I made it to midnight, under a blanket watching a show that wasn’t made by Disney. I ate a fancy meal, and got gussied up before that, so I’d say I got the best of both worlds this year.