There are two types of people: Those who go out on Dec. 31 and those who stay in until the New Year is at least 10-12 hours old.
New Year’s Eve is commonly referred to as “amateur night,” which is seemingly inaccurate since many of the people who tend to party like it’s 1999 on the last night of the year do it annually, presumably rendering them expert revelers.
Those who’ve already set the reminder on their cable boxes tune in to watch Ryan Seacrest, Snookie or Anderson Cooper live from Times Square tomorrow night imagine that for those who have plans to venture out instead, it’ll be a night not unlike a prom — expectations are high, a large sum of money will be spent and the evening will never, ever turn out as planned.
Neither the prom nor New Year’s Eve have ever been included on my list of favorite national holidays such as Administrative Professional’s (née Secretary’s) Day and Fat Tuesday. Except for the year I ran a race in Central Park at midnight and chugged champagne at the rest stations in lieu of water, it’s been a perennial disappointment.
And yet I still felt compelled to attend my high school proms, and up until a few years ago, go out on Dec. 31st.
When I became a mom, there were a lot of things I stubbornly refused to admit were a thing of the past, like my body, seeing movies in a theatre and having a single waking moment to myself. Fortunately, going out on New Year’s Eve was something I happily parted ways with and never looked back.
It’s not like not going out has yielded any special or memorable family moments as a result, unless you count that it’s memorable how forgettable the nights have been. On New Year’s Eve, like on every other day’s eve, my husband is fast asleep on the couch, usually by the stroke of 9:45. We live in a resort town so there are fireworks at 8 o’clock and then again at midnight — practically right outside our back door — but nothing stirs him.
We usually mean to do something to set the night apart from the others. When I was about four minutes pregnant on New Year’s Eve in 2007, we went out to a quiet little restaurant for a prix fixe dinner. I ordered a steak and as I took a bite, realized I was having my first pregnancy-related food aversion — to steak. My nausea promptly asked to be taken home.
Two years ago, with a months-old baby at home, we were all set for a cozy night with a pizza delivery, game of Boggle and full pot of coffee, when my husband called from work to report there were bomb threats around town and because he works at the newspaper, he had to cover the unfolding events. 2009 rolled in with me clinging to the baby and wondering just how close my husband was to any of the bombs at that moment. Had there been a flicker of hope that we could recreate the intimate evening the next night, they were dashed when he went and got a concussion that afternoon.
Last year we had an early dinner with the baby, put her to bed and he set his watch alarm for 11:59:30. When it went off, he opened his eyes for about 9 seconds — long enough to peck me on the cheek. He still didn’t make it to midnight.
Like high schoolers attending the prom and New Year’s Eve merrymakers who prepare for the big night weeks, if not months, ahead of time, and chat excitedly about how they expect it will go, my prediction for how I’ll greet 2011 has long been in place, too: To the sound of my husband snoring, which will drown out one, and likely both, fireworks shows. After all, why mess with a good thing?
What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?