New Year's Eve Through The Years

"New Years Eve Through The Years"

My oldest memories of New Years Eve are probably my best and happiest.   I was probably 10-12 years old.  Mom would pull out the bag of New Year's hats and garlands and noisemakers (the ones with the handle sticking out of one side that you swung in a circle to make noise).  She would have gone to some store and bought "party poppers" that would shoot the strings of tissue paper all over the room at midnight. 

My parent's best friends - Dave and Marion would show up after dinner, and the five of us would sit around my parent's kitchen table playing cards until almost midnight.  I was always included in the game, even though I was the only youngster there.  The card game would be "KNOCK 31" and we played for nickels.  Mom would have bought some snacks - but the culinary highlight of the evening would be when dad pulled out the "mini Hibachi".  He would light the can of Sterno under it's grill, and wait for the grill to heat up.  We would then take Hormel Cocktail Smokies (the teeny weenie hot dogs for you folks who are uninformed), skewer them with a toothpick, and place it on the grill till it was as hot and charred as you wanted. 

Mom and Dad just enjoyed playing games, but Dave was rather competitive.  On a night other than New Year's Eve, he would get up and say he was tired if he lost too many hands of cards.  When we went to his house, he gave you the signal that it was time for you to leave when he got up and started winding the clocks.  My parents would laugh about it all the way home.

At Midnight we would put on our hats and our plastic garland necklaces and count down with Guy Lombardo (Dad called him Guy LUMBAGO) and watch the ball drop in Times Square of New York City.  Those New Year's celebrations were almost magical.  There was fun and laughter all night long.

The next genre of New Year's Eves were after Maria and I were married.  Somehow - we always found a terrible way to spend the evening.  Seriously.  Terrible.  Some of the worst memories are:

  • The year we went to a "dinner dance" at Sky Top Lanes (yup - the 10 pin alleys in Torrington).  The meal was horrible, and they had an elderly woman (she was at least 50 if she was a day) playing an electronic keyboard all night.  (I will NEVER forget her croaking rendition of "FEELINGS - NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS".  Saturday Night Live couldn't have created anything more awkward / terrible / funny.
  • The year we went to the Litchfield Fire House for another dinner and dance.  We left early because of intoxicated people - acting ....  poorly.  
  • The year we went to "THE BUCKBOARD" restaurant  in Glastonbury for the early seating.  Overpriced food.  Crammed into long tables (like a cafeteria).  Elbow to elbow with the person shoved next to you.  Loud and obnoxious inebriated revelers.  The highlight of that evening was when they did the midnight countdown (at 9pm so they could turn the whole place over for the second seating).  The intoxicated woman next to me - who I didn't know - grabbed me and used her tongue to try to search for  my tonsils - which had been removed 25 years prior.  Oh God - what a night....  Maria was PIIISSSSED!  And THAT - is when we decided to never go out to dinner again on New Year's Eve.   
  • The year or two that we went to Hartford's "FIRST NIGHT" celebration.  For $25, you could get an "all evening family pass" which allowed you into venues sprinkled throughout the city.  There's nothing quite like paying $25 to see a Brownie Troop sing Christmas Carols and a juggler who would be thrown out of any kid's party.  And.. it was too dang cold to watch the fireworks.

New Year's Eves got much better when we stayed home and cooked a fancy meal.  Sometimes we would have friends over - sometimes not.  We would stay up till midnight with our daughters to see the New Year arrive.  We'd open a bottle of M&R Asti Spumonte to toast in the new year. 

I can't remember the last time we stayed up till midnight on New Years Eve.  Maria usually works on New Year's Day.  She's in the lab at 6:00am, which means we're in bed by 9:00pm.  


My New Year's Wish is to have a personalized replay of the final episode of the Bob Newhart Show.  I'll wake up and turn to Maria and say:  "I just had the strangest dream about the year 2020".   

THANK YOU for reading.  I wish you and your family a MARVELOUS, SPECTACULAR, HAPPY, HEALTHY 2021.

Happy New Year!