Back in my twenties, New Year’s Eve was my favorite holiday. I loved the idea of tossing out the old and ringing in the new while indulging in cocktails with my friends and strangers in loud, crowded places. I loved planning a fun evening out, overpaying for dinner, drinking and dancing, and spending New Year’s Day hungover and miserable. Ah the good ol’ days! Pure awesomeness!

Once I hooked up with my husband and the new millenium approached, the evening lost a bit of its luster. My husband was never really a “New Year’s guy” and my body didn’t bounce back as well as it once did from Jaegermeister-induced hangovers. So instead of dressing up and going out to ring in the new year, we opted for pajamas and movies and cheap champagne. A new kind of awesomeness.

Fast forward to 2003. My husband and I spent New Year’s Eve in the labor and delivery room of Mercer Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey. My first son, JC, was born on December 31, 2003, at 6:42 p.m. I remember holding him in the hospital bed, watching the ball drop on the tiny television that hung from the ceiling, while my husband slept in the recliner next to us. No black tie affair, no drinks, no noisemakers (besides the baby). Just our new little family– our cute, cone-headed son– making his appearance a few days early in time for the ball to drop and to provide us with a much-needed tax deduction.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. New Year’s Eve 2012. Like we had every year before since his birth, we celebrated JC’s ninth birthday with ice cream cake and a mini-party around the dining room table. In years past, he knew that his birthday fell on New Year’s Eve, but for some reason this year he was extra excited. He insisted he would stay awake to see the ball drop and watch the world celebrate. We made popcorn and settled in for the long haul to midnight.

Husband and M. (a.k.a. “The Party Poopers”) called it quits by ten o’clock, leaving JC and I talking and giggling and watching cartoons in anticipation of the big moment– until JC fell fast asleep at eleven o’clock in our living room chair.

So there I sat, flipping channels, playing on my iPad and texting my friend N. until midnight. (This post was originally going to be about my Adventures on Twitter that night, but it sort of morphed into a New Year’s Eve account, so I’m going with it. I realize January’s almost over and a more conventional blogger would have posted this sooner, but I’m the Rebel Blogger, remember? More on Twitter adventures soon . . .)

For a few minutes that night, I reminisced about the old days, wondering what the youth of the world had planned for the night. I thought about the New Year’s Eve I went to see the Barenaked Ladies at a small venue in the city. I remembered the New Year’s I spent with my college roommates at a dinner dance when I threw up on the pile of our fancy shoes we had kicked off under our dinner table (which made for an interesting walk home). I remembered New Year’s Eve 1999 when husband and I, pre-kids, went to a family party where our uncle shut the power to the house at exactly midnight amid “Y2K” hysteria. And now, there I was in my fleece pajamas on my couch, texting and scrolling through my Twitter timeline while JC snored next to me.

I thought about going to bed. Why bother staying awake when the rest of the house had retired? But I didn’t. There’s just something about seeing that ball descend, being awake during the moment the calendar flips, celebrating the first minute of the new year, that settles my brain. I think to myself, “We made it to another year,” and I wonder where time goes and hope for a great year. Once these thoughts work their way through my head I can sleep and return to the daily grind in the morning.

The years go by faster and faster and JC gets older and older each New Year’s Eve. I’m so glad for our time spent together on his birthday. I’ll cherish it forever, because I know someday he’ll be old enough to go party with his friends, like I used to do.

When that happens, I imagine myself old and cranky, wondering why he won’t answer my texts, worrying if he’s alright, and praying that he and his crazy friends won’t drink and drive. I hope he’ll call me at midnight to wish me a Happy New Year, because he’ll remember the years when we hung out on the couch watching the ball drop together.

I wonder if he’ll love New Year’s Eve and anticipate a new start, like his mom did, wondering what the year has in store for him.

I wonder if his dad and brother will be lame-o’s every New Year’s Eve. 🙂

I wonder if he’ll let us have ice cream cake for his birthday around our dining room table before he goes out with his friends, even though he’ll complain it’s dorky.

I wonder if he’ll remember how I lugged his 70+ pound body up two flights of stairs at 12:03 a.m. on January 1, 2013, since I couldn’t wake him to walk on his own.

I wonder if he’ll recall how I tell him every New Year’s Eve that there is no place else I’d rather be than with him on his special day, celebrated around the world. Black tie affairs with drunken strangers aren’t so appealing when I can be home with JC eating popcorn and talking Sonic the Hedgehog and Harry Potter, waiting for that special moment when the slate is wiped clean and the new year begins, both the calendar of the world and the calendar of his life.

That night is different for me since the nineties– it’s way more fun now. Change isn’t always bad (remind me of this when I complain the first time JC tells me he’s going out on New Year’s Eve). Awesomeness takes many different forms.

Happy Belated New Year!

One thought on “Times Square, Birthday Cake, and Party Poopers

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