Another year gone makes everyone feel old, but we feel old just contemplating New Year’s Eve. Young people think nothing of beginning their evening at 10:30 p.m. when they start texting their friends to make a plan. They take a shower at 11:05 and start picking out an outfit at 11:20. For them, New Year’s Eve is just another late night out.
Our husbands are very early risers, so they generally fall asleep around 9:30 pm, fully dressed, relaxing in a chair. Then they get up, get undressed and get into bed long before the 11:00 news. Penciling in a party that includes festivities at midnight is not their usual preference, but lured by martinis and pigs in the blanket, they’ll be drafted to go, along with all the other “dates.”
We consider ourselves lucky to have dates for New Year’s Eve. In fact, we’ve been dating the same boys a collective 70-plus years. So we’re not anxious when we hear that Christmas standard from 1947, the hit song that asks, What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? – and more importantly, who are you doing it with?
Our kids will be clubbing in New York, cavorting in Las Vegas, going to parties that will run way past midnight, and attending New Year’s Eve concerts. The description of one Philadelphia concert describes the band as guaranteed to “send huge crowds into a sweat-drenched euphoria.” (Being packed in a room with sweaty strangers sounds likes so much fun!)
The sweaty concert is scheduled to end at 2 a.m. We’ll be sweat-drenched then, too, but ours will be a menopause-related tossing and turning hot/cold sleep.
When our children were young, we’d tell them, “It’s no big deal, you don’t have to stay up.” Now we tell ourselves that. Some years the kids would fall asleep and we would wake them at 11:50, just in time to watch the ball drop. Now we sometimes fall asleep and wake up at 12:10 when Dick Clark (may he rest in peace) is just cutting to a commercial – realizing that we missed the whole hullabaloo. (We predict that if you are in your pajamas and cozy beneath the covers watching TV in a horizontal position after you’ve had a glass of champagne, there is a 89.6% chance that you will fall asleep before the ball drops.)
The tradition of dropping the ball in Times Square started in 1907, when New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs decided to celebrate the opening of his paper’s new headquarters at One Times Square. “Hey,” Joyce realized, “you couldn’t watch it on TV back then.”
This is the only holiday we can think of where you count down to the exact second it begins. What if we did that on Thanksgiving, with everyone poised around the table counting down 10…9…8.. until the first bite of turkey? What if on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the whole congregation wore glitter top hats and silly glasses, threw confetti, tooted noisemakers and watched a giant clock count down 3…2…1… until they opened the ark?
If you are lucky enough to be invited to a party at a friend’s house – and this year we both made the cut – there’s the “how late do you have to stay?” dilemma. We’ve observed that most of the guests hang out till 12:10 and then hightail it home. Others come promptly at 7 p.m. like the invitation states and then have nothing left to shmooze about by 10:15. They duck out, saying loudly that “they’ll drive home to watch the ball fall there.” We know they’ll be in pajamas.
Of course, if you live in another time zone, it’s easier to watch the ball drop. Our friends in New Mexico watch the telecast from Times Square and count down at 9:59 p.m. their time, avoiding the whole midnight/stay up late dilemma.
We’re not always such homebodies. We’ve hosted parties for our friends and we’ve been known to ring in the New Year with a “festive celebration, prix-fixe dinner and a midnight champagne toast” at a local restaurant — and there’s lots going on in Philadelphia.
The Eisenbergs once took a winter family trip to Reykjavik, the most northern capital in the world (sunrise was at 11:30 a.m., sunset at 3:30 p.m.), where Icelanders dress as elves and trolls and dance around bonfires; even the little children set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
We’ve gone to a country club/hotel ballroom gala where they hire a local big band – one you might have danced to at your nephew’s Bar Mitzvah – and pack the ballroom with 500 of your closest friends. You can reserve a table for 10 of your friends, which only leaves only 490 people you don’t know. The good news is that you don’t have to go around and kiss everyone goodbye at the end of the night. You can just sneak out without thanking the host. You also can have too much to drink and get a little rowdy on the dance floor, and Aunt Ethel won’t tattle to your mom.
Even in our prime, we were never tempted to go to a New Year’s Eve party at a “dance club,” where the main selling point is the “premium six-hour all you can drink open bar” and the after party runs from 2-6 a.m. We preferred to do our disco dancing in the living room.