I hate New Year's Eve.
I didn't always hate it. I spent my share of 11:59's sharing kisses under falling confetti while sequin-and-black-dressed beauties swayed to "Every Breath You Take" (substitute the appropriate song for the years from 1973 through 1983--this year it may be twerking to "Wrecking Ball"). We gave all that up when we had children, the hassle of securing a babysitter, the compounded sitting and cocktails/appetizers/dinner/champagne fees prohibitive to a young family. Suddenly, there was the added worry of WHO WOULD TAKE CARE OF THE CHILDREN IF SOMETHING HAPPENED TO US TONIGHT WHEN EVERYONE DRIVES LIKE CRAZY? Plus, that little black dress didn't fit over my hips quite the same.
The last fully glamorous New Year's Eve I remember was spent at the Monterey Bay atop Mt. Washington with four other couples. We toasted each other at a long white-clothed table overlooking the Pittsburgh lights. My expectations for 1983 were full of crystalline wonder--a fragile, blown glass bubble of promise. That night, I had a tipsy heart-to-heart with my beautiful friend Elaine in the ladies' room. I can't remember what we talked about, but I remember the warm feeling I had as I caught our blurry reflection in the bathroom mirror. Three of those couples divorced not long after our New Year's date. I don't know if I miss all of them so much, but I miss that girl I was then. And I certainly miss Elaine, whose boyfriend found her hanging from the upstairs bannister a couple of years ago.
When our oldest two children were babies, our new-parent friends took turns hosting parties. All of our little ones attended in fleecy footed sleepers, and we played games and grazed on spinach dip in pumpernickel bread bowls and bacon wrapped around water chestnuts. There was always champagne, though depending on the year, some of us couldn't drink. It didn't take more than four or five years for this new tradition to fall to the wayside. As our collective children grew older, the logistics became more problematic, so our new normal became the Sunday Family New Year's Eve celebrations. Our table covered with appetizers, we'd watch movies until 11:30, turning to Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve to watch the ball drop, exchanging sticky HAPPY NEW YEAR! kisses all around. You can guess what happened next.
We really don't have plans for tonight, never sure of who might be home or who might need a ride. I did put together the Raspberry Sangria recipe ingredients for my daughters to take to their party. My freezer is full of mini meatballs, shrimp, and mini dogs wrapped in pastry, just in case. It looks like us and Dick Clark...I mean...Ryan Seacrest...again.
My youngest daughter just leaned into my writing space to say "We never have New Year's Eve parties here."
Here's why I think I hate New Year's Eve:
1. I'm not that girl in the little black dress anymore.
2. I didn't pay enough attention to her when I could.
3. My children don't know that girl. They would have liked her.
4. That damn glittery ball makes so many promises it can't keep.
If you'd like to make a batch of Raspberry Sangria, here's what you will need.
- 1 jug Riunite Bianco (wine lovers, please forgive me)
- 1 32-oz Sierra Mist (the diet version is delicious, too)
- 1 large Cran-Rasperry juice drink (this comes in a low-cal version, too)
- Chambord to taste (about a cup)
- Frozen raspberries.(if you go the low-cal route, you can pretend this beverage is actually good for you...and you can start the new year with a healthy drink).
- Thinly sliced oranges (really, you can add any fruit...in sangria, the more the merrier!)
- Mint sprigs
If you are making the punch at your house, use your mother's big glass punch bowl. Mine loved Riunite Bianco, and so her bowl is quite happy to hold this punch. If, however, you are sending this to your daughters' party, use the plastic punchbowl from Party City. Refrigerate all ingredients (if you are in Western Pennsylvania, your garage will work just fine as a refrigerator on New Year's Eve). When it's time to drink, pour all of the ingredients into the bowl. Don't defrost the raspberries--they act like tiny ice cubes!
The Grinch in me is fighting my fingers as I type the following: Happy 2014!