Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Expectation vs. Reality: New Year's Eve Parties

Expectation vs. Reality:  New Year’s Eve Parties

Growing up, I was always fascinated with New Year’s Eve parties.  The idea always seemed magical to me.  This party was signaling the end of the year.  When the bells tolled and the ball dropped, we would no longer be in the year we were in.  We’d be moving forward, irreversibly forward.

When New Year’s Eve would come, my parents would invite lots of their friends over.  I was always ushered off to bed somewhat early to make sure I was out of their way and because I was much too young to stay up until midnight.

The endless stream of guests would have been enough to keep me awake anyway, but the constant headlights pulling into my driveway simply added insult to injury.  It was like searchlights at those big Hollywood premieres saying “Party Over Here!” and my bedroom door was like that deep voice in the old Charlie Brown cartoons booming “Noooo Kids Allooooowed.”

I remember sneaking out of my room one time and wandering through my house like an explorer.  I navigated the adults’ legs like a forest.  There was music and laughter and drinks of various colors—most smelling horribly.  I wanted to join in on the fun so bad.  They looked like they were having a blast.  I envied them.  They were, to me, the equivalent of those blissful, partying gods on Olympus.

(They’re so beautiful.  Like…gods.)
Eventually, the parties stopped.  Then my parents got a divorce, but my image of New Year’s Eve parties never faded.  I was ecstatic the first time I was able to stay up until midnight.  I had a fairly good time with my family just sitting around watching TV.  However, it wasn’t THE good time I’d imagined.  So, I made it my goal to try to recreate that party and capture the experience I’d been denied as a child.

Most of my attempts at the perfect New Year’s Eve party were unsuccessful. The only person that could come over was my cousin, and we differed on…everything.

A New Year’s party of just my cousin, my brother, and I may not be huge, but that didn’t stop me from trying to mimic the parties of my dreams. We had refreshments.  We had that sparkling grape juice that comes in the champagne looking bottles.  We had music.  But it wasn’t the same.  Where were all of the people?  Where was the excitement?  They were fun for a while, but eventually we outgrew our tiny parties.  Eventually, three was simply not a party.

When I went to my dad’s one year for New Year’s, things were even worse.  For Christmas, my brother had been given a Karaoke Machine and several Karaoke CD’s.  I was given a light-up disco ball.

However, when New Year’s came around, I saw my chance to really get things going.  My step-brother could be there, he could invite some of his friends.  My dad, my brother, my grandma, my dad’s wife.  This could be a real shindig.  Until it wasn’t…  I rolled in that New Year on the couch with my dad, the disco ball’s light overshadowed by the soft glow of the TV as Dick Clark rolled in another New Year.  The music of the evening was the late-night chirping of crickets and my brother’s snoring from the other room.

The only decent New Year’s party I have ever been to was the one I met my wife at.  I was locked inside a theater with a hundred people I either knew from high school, or that I knew that were still in high school.  I sang karaoke, I ate popcorn, I rapped Fergilicious.  I had a blast.

In the end, I’ve learned that it’s not about the size of the parties, but the people you are with that makes the holiday special.  With that said, I would still kill for this: