I am always to hear how other people celebrate New Year’s Eve. It’s my birthday, which sort of skews my view of this yearly milestone. New Year’s Eve sucks as a birthday because it means double the build-up, equaling to double the let-down should the day play out in any kind of mundane way. I feel like New Year’s Eve is this looming holiday we’ve given so much import to . . . that there is some underlying meaning we’ve assigned to how we spend ringing in the new year. (Right? Or is this just me?) I’ve always felt like I had to be doing something spectacular as the clock struck midnight . . . like if I wasn’t surrounded by confetti and music and kissing a cute boy, the rest of the year would inexplicably be ruined.I would love to say that I’ve grown out of this, but that feeling is still present, if I’m honest. For many years, I mitigated these feelings by throwing a huge birthday party / New Year’s Eve bash. I think we did this for every New Year’s Eve up until my 30th birthday. We rented out community centers or ballrooms, we went big with music and karaoke, we invited lots of friends and served lots of champagne. It was always a blast. It was also always a LOT of work.
That tissue paper confetti? I CUT THAT BY HAND. And I didn’t even have Pinterest to show me how or brag about it later.
After a decade of hosting a big shin-dig, I decided I’d had enough. Throwing your own birthday party is hard enough . . . throwing a birthday party where you feel responsible for everyone having a thrilling moment all the way up ‘till minute? Way too much work. And while I love my husband, partying planning is not in Mark’s gift mix. Party merriment? Yes. Party planning? Not so much. And I was tired of feeling responsible for everyone’s countdown moment. So we stopped throwing the parties, and started looking for destinations.Ah . . . but God forbid you try to go out to eat on New Year’s Eve with a small group. God forbid you actually want to ring in the New Year at an establishment that serves food or drink . . . because they will make you pay out the nose for the privilege of occupying a chair once the clock strikes. It’s insane and nearly impossible to find a place to go that is fun, that isn’t overpriced, and that doesn’t turn into a parade of cosmetic surgery cougars come 10pm. Then there is the drunk driving, which means everyone is reluctant to go out, combined with the exorbitant prices and the fact that everyone is out of town and the insane length of time between a reasonable dinner hour and midnight and SHEESH. It is a really difficult night. I know I need to let go of my expectations, but I can’t seem to shake the pressure.And yet . . . one year we decided to sit New Year’s Eve out . . . to just stay home and watch a countdown, and oh my word. I just felt so old and lame and lonely. I seriously remember thinking, “This is it. This is the year we are officially old.” Was I over-exaggerating and making too much of some symbolic milestone that really has no relevancy over my day-to-day life and well-being? Sure. I was. But I’m also the girl who named her blog Rage Against the Minivan. So.This year we were in Florida visiting my mom, and my friends Carol and Henry invited us over for a little boat ride and backyard bonfire. It was a really fun and peaceful evening.
Later in the evening, we met up with another high school friend, Mariana, at a party her mom was throwing. Her mom always threw the best parties when we were high school … huge spreads of Puerto Rican food, with dancing and salsa music into the wee hours. It was fun to experience that again with my family. (Jafta has a newfound love for pasteles).