The end of one year and the beginning of a new one is always a time of reflection. We think back to what has been and what has happened during the last 365 days. What was good? What was bad? What did we achieve, if anything? Did we reach our goals or did we forget we even made a resolution at the beginning of the year? In most cases, we probably did forget or gave up. Why? Because life isn’t like that! You cannot rely on a blueprint, written in stone. You can’t wish for deviations and you can’t know about the things that might, or will, happen to throw you off course. Why did nobody ever think of selling us insurance for a good year? We try our best to make it so! More of us think of exercising more and eating less. Others have a bucket list with travel dreams and they vow to make at least one wish come true. Some even wish to be nicer to their parents, relatives, friends, or neighbours. This one only works if it comes from both sides – unless all is hunky-dory anyway – which, in most cases, is not so. Since I have listened to many people tell me their stories this topic has become quite disheartening for me.
However, we celebrate the beginning of a brand new year and hope for new beginnings. It’s like having a book with 365 empty pages. We intend to fill these pages with good stories and, before we know it, we write “The End” and look back on another year and wonder where the time has gone. I am reminded that life is like a toilet roll – it goes faster the close one comes to the end! So it goes, year after year.
I remember my teenage years when friends and I would peel an apple without breaking the peel. The peel had to be in one piece. We would close our eyes and throw the peel over our head. We looked for a letter in the way it fell. Rather like reading teacups that letter was the first initial of our future husband. The name of every boy we met meant a lot and we would always hope to find the one with that particular initial. Did it work out that way in my life? NO! If you dreamed you were dancing the waltz with someone, that someone would become your husband. When finally old enough to go to parties we would be dancing into the New Year. I usually went to the dance with a bunch of other girls and we all hoped for a good dance partner. If you didn’t like him you rushed to the bathroom shortly before midnight to avoid having to give him a kiss. Things were so different in my youth! There were lots of public balls and parties, now the celebration is mainly private.
When I was married and living in Canada I learned a new way of celebrating the New Year. It did not matter if you were at a dance in a club or at a basement party room in one of your friend’s houses. The midnight kissing was a big part of it. It wasn’t just your husband you kissed. Everybody kissed everybody and I hated it. It was so unhygienic and some men had so much saliva around their lips. Okay, go ahead and laugh, I don’t think I missed too much by avoiding it after the first year! I just couldn’t do it. I usually disappeared until it was over. I remember quite a few years when I shivered outside while looking for a falling star to make a wish. I wished to see a falling star and when it happened it was so fast that I forget to wish for something. Life can be so unfair!
I remember one New Year’s party in the exquisite Fort Gary Hotel in Winnipeg. I think it was the first time ever I was tipsy. I was coerced to drink too much champagne. I felt on top of the world in a wonderful ball gown and dancing every single dance. I was so happy, it must have been contagious because it seemed every man in the room wanted to have a dance with me. I didn’t feel tipsy at all, but when we went outside (it was -32° Celsius) and stood on the steep stairway waiting for a taxi, I had to hold onto my husband. I was terribly dizzy. I remember him laughing! He thought it was funny and found it even funnier during the night when I fought the effects of a horrible stomach flu! “Stomach flu?” He teased me and didn’t feel a bit compassionate – the miserable old bugger. I don’t like champagne anymore.
Another party, my best New Year’s party ever, was the Millennium Party of 2000! Friends, who are members of the prestigious Vancouver Club, had secured a table for twelve couples and we all had a whale of a time. I think we had to ‘endure’ a twelve-course dinner. The entertainment and the music were second to none and I tried to get as much dancing in as possible. I would rather dance than eat or drink champagne! When the band played a ‘Cha Cha Cha’ I was showing my partner the steps and in no time we were joined by eight or ten others who also wanted to learn this fun dance. The plan was to attend the next New Year’s Party in Vienna but it didn’t work out that way. It wasn’t in the ‘blueprint’ for 2001. That Millennium Party was the last real New Year’s party I attended.
The years have come and gone since that wonderful Millennium Party without making an impact or adding to unforgettable memories. Now, the New Year’s night is just another night and even trying to stay awake and watch the countdown in New York doesn’t always work. It’s part of aging. It must be. But the memories haven’t faded nor have the dreams of dancing into another New Year stopped.
Welcome and cheers to 2017!