There’s lame and then there’s New Year’s Eve lame. I’m almost certain I hold the record for the lamest consecutive New Year’s Eves in the history of modern mankind (and by that I mean starting in the mid-1970s when Dick Clark began hosting his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve).
Even as a teenager my New Year’s Eves were less than awesome. I didn’t spend it at a party or making out with some guy in his car at the stroke of midnight. No, I spent it at home wearing my flannel Lanz of Salzburg nightgown, spritzed with Love’s Baby Soft cologne, eating what was left of the now-somewhat-stale Christmas cookies, watching my parents and Dick Clark show off their math skills as they counted down from 10.
It didn’t get any better in college. Yes, I was sort of an adult and at that time the drinking age was 18, but I was still home for the holidays and that meant I had to abide by my parents’ house rule, which was I had to be home by 10 p.m. because, according to my mother, everyone knows the drunks take over the roads at precisely 10:01 Central Standard Time.
After I became a fully formed adult I got the grand and glorious idea of throwing my own amazing New Year’s Eve party. Why hadn’t I thought of this sooner? If I couldn’t find a great party to go I should create my own. It was the early 1990s and Martha Stewart’s Living magazine had just come out. Using Martha as my muse I was hell-bent on creating an elegant New Year’s Eve for friends. I had a signature cocktail, an hors d’oeuvres station and a dessert table all set up in my less-than-1,000 square feet home. (This meant my hors d’oeuvres station was the kitchen counter and my dessert station was an ottoman, but still I know Martha would have been proud.)
Everything went great. I was the hostess with the mostess until 10 p.m. That’s when not one guest was left at my house. Yep, two hours before the new year everyone had bailed on my party. Unbeknownst to me, there was a “cooler” party with tequila shots and a hot tub happening. My “friends” had done the old “we’ll swing by this shindig first, get it out of the way and then go to the real party” switcheroo. I rang in the New Year with tears and eating what was left of the Martha Stewart goat cheese with pink peppercorns appetizer.
Thank God for babies, because after getting married and having kids no one expects you to do anything on New Year’s Eve until your children are old enough to sleep through the night. (So, in my case, that meant when my son turned 5.)
It took an exciting New Year’s Eve full of surprises to make me grateful for all those years of lameness. I was traveling from Dallas to Reno, Nevada, with my then 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. We were going to meet my husband, who was already in Reno working at his new job.
A snowstorm of biblical proportions hit the Sierra Nevadas and forced the plane, after hours of circling, to land at the San Jose, Calif., airport at 2 a.m. We were on the last plane to land and were told that all the hotel rooms, rental cars, you name it, had already been gobbled up by other stranded passengers. This meant we’d be camping out at the airport, but not in the nice part, the part where you wait for your plane. Oh no, we had to spend the night in baggage claim.
I was on the floor with my daughter sleeping in my lap and my son using my thighs as a pillow. I had taken the straps of my purse and used them to tie my kids to my body because I was afraid I might fall asleep and someone could try to steal my children. I never closed my eyes. I’d like to think it was because I was a good parent assuming a sentry like position over my kids to keep them safe. But to be truthful I know it was the automated, never ending loop of “do not leave your bags unattended” that kept me from nodding off.
Finally, at noon the next day we made it to Reno. When I got off the plane I said a prayer hoping for all my future New Year’s Eves to be lame. Lame isn’t bad. In fact, it gets a bad rap. Sure it can mean boring, but boring usually means you’re OK. All is well. Is there any better way to start a new year that that? I don’t think so.