The Zoo Keeper
Ringing in the New Year
(1/10) When I was a child, the New Year meant nothing to me. If anything, it was a little depressing because it meant Christmas was over and I only had a few more days of Christmas Vacation left (that was back in the day that we could actually call it that instead of today's "Winter Break").
Somewhere around Junior High (there was no such thing as "Middle School" in the olden days), I began to look at the New Year a little differently. It meant I got to stay up late and watch "The Ball" drop with Dick Clark. Everyone else in the house slept right through those magic moments, but it was then
that I started to get excited about the New Year. Not because of the whole "fresh start" idea, but because it meant I was growing up and getting closer to being able to join the mass of partiers in Times Square. It was then that I resolved to never become one of those people that slept through the biggest night of the year - I
suppose that was my first New Year's resolution.
Once in High School, I started to spend New Year's Eve with friends. We were way too cool to watch Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve in its entirety, but we always turned it on in time to watch The Ball.
Through my twenties, I continued to celebrate on New Year's Eve with champagne flowing all night. At some point, though, the cork-popping slowed down and by the time I hit my thirties, the only cork that popped was the one at midnight. A few years into my thirties and the cork didn't even pop. Somehow
I'd failed to even buy a bottle of champagne for the big night and instead had to settle for unscrewing the cork from whatever bottle of wine I happened to have on hand.
It was then that I figured I'd hit rock-bottom in my New Year's celebrations. I was wrong. Shortly thereafter, my beverage of choice on New Year's Eve became coffee - I needed the caffeine to stay awake until midnight. Occasionally I'd add a little Bailey's in a weak attempt to make it festive, but who
was I kidding? I was drinking coffee on New Year's Eve. Oh well, at least I was awake for The Ball. If Dick Clark could do it at his age, I could do it at mine.
Well, it turns out that Dick Clark is a better partier than I am. A few years ago, I broke my original New Year's resolution and slept right through the biggest night of the year. I have to give myself a little credit, though - I kept that resolution longer than I kept any others. But alas, as happens
more often than not, New Year's resolutions get broken.
Still, I couldn't believe it had happened to me. At 11:55 p.m., I was fading but thought I could hang in there for just a few more minutes if I could just rest my eyes through the commercial break. Yeah, I should've known better. The next thing I knew, Dick Clark had said good night and my coffee was
cold. I'd missed it - The Ball had dropped without me.
Times; They are a Changin'
Since my tradition of ringing in the New Year with a toast had officially been broken, I decided I'd better not let any other traditions fall by the wayside. One of those traditions is spending some time reflecting on the past year. So far, so good on this one.
Wayne and I started our "Most Memorable" lists in 1999. Every New Year's Eve, we each make a list of our top five best and/or most memorable moments or events of the year. Neither of us is allowed to look at the other's list until after we are both finished. Most of the time, at least three of the five
are the same on both our lists.
We keep our lists in a special "Happy New Year" folder that we really only pull out on New Year's Eve. As we reminisce about years past, it's amazing to see many things we had forgotten about, so having these lists is a nice way to honor and remember the important events of our lives. It's also
interesting to see how what we consider "important" changes as we move through the stages of our lives.
In 1999, the things that topped our lists were getting engaged and the incredibly awesome "Horseback Wedding Shower" that our friend, Joe Topper, threw for us. In 2000, at the top of the list was getting married. In 2001, it was September 11th. Fast forward to 2004 - the year Kara was born. From that
point on, our lists changed from being centered around things we experienced ourselves to things we experienced through our kids.
That's not to say that our own lives came to a screeching halt. My list still included things like riding milestones and personal achievements; Wayne's included work promotions and the like. But what stood out most were things like the day Kara caught six fish from our pond and when Gavin finally
learned how to drive his Gator.
One of these days, I still hope to be one of the crazy partiers at Times Square on New Year's Eve. Even though celebrating the New Year with Ryan Seacrest instead of Dick Clark is not what I imagined when I first watched The Ball drop all those years ago, I'm pretty sure that it will still make it onto
my "Most Memorable" list.
I wish you all a safe, happy, and memorable New Year.
Read other article by Layla Watkins