Friday, January 01, 2010

My New Years Eve Tradition

I know I've discussed traditions at length over the last two months, and most of you know how neither The Man or I have many solid traditions. We're fine with it, don't get me wrong, we're not complaining. As we approached New Year's Eve, though, I realized that there is one tradition my family had most often:

Waaaaaay back in the day when I was a little girl, my parents would pack us up with our pajamas and some snacks, and we'd drive from Lebanon all the way out to old North Albany (before it was yuppi-ville) to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Mom and Dad let us eat almost anything we wanted that one night of the year, so we pigged out on ice cream, port wine cheese balls (the almond-crusted cheap kind), all sorts of crackers and cookies, usually some Chex mix, and leftover Christmas goodies. My sister and I would stay in the living room as the adults sat at the dining room table and played cards until late in the night. I don't have any idea what card games they played, probably a form of rummy or pinochle or cribbage. The two of us would drag Grandma and Grandpa's penny jugs (the Carlo Rossi wine jugs full of pennies) out to the living room and we'd sort them for wheat backs or steel pennies, always keeping an eye out for rare coins to fill Grandma's collector books. The penny sorting always happened on bath towels so that we wouldn't dirty the light-colored carpet. With full bellies and the pennies sorted, we'd drift to the couch to read or draw. I don't remember staying awake until midnight very many times. Around midnight, the adults would stop playing card games to watch Dick Clark and that big ball drop. They'd wake us up long enough for the clock to strike 12:00am, and then we'd fall back asleep. Sometimes we'd stay there until 2 or 3 in the morning while the card games progressed. Dad would pack us out to the van (the van, sis!) one at a time, sometimes wrapped in our own blankets, and sometimes in one Grandma let us borrow so we wouldn't be cold in the car. I don't remember a single ride home or being packed off to bed once we got there.

After Grandpa couldn't play cards anymore a few years before he passed away, the tradition came to a bit of a standstill. I went off to college and had celebrations of my own (usually in bed by 9pm since I always had to work at 5am the next day). It felt like the tradition had ended, and I was pretty bummed. No more pigging out on junk food!

Last night, The Man and I joined my sister and her boyfriend at our parents' house for cards. We played Uno and Apples to Apples until 2am, stopping to watch The Ball and smooch our sweethearts at the stroke of midnight. We snacked on Chex mix and chips, crackers and a port wine cheese ball. Some people had some bubbly drinks, and some of us had pop. There was no packing-off-of-tired-children-to-a-cold-van, but there was waking up the next morning to Mom's homemade cinnamon bread (Grandma's recipe). The tradition is still alive! and it feels great knowing I will be able to have many more nights like the last one.

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