My parents started a New Year’s eve tradition in my fifth or sixth year, the first time I was deemed old enough to stay up reeeeeeally late and watch Dick Clark and that jazzy ball descend upon a crowd of crazy, cold people. They made sure we had a bottle of sparkling apple juice, plenty of snacks and, of course, tools for the big moment, a couple wooden spoons and a few of our biggest pots and pans.
I’ll never forget that moment, being led outside on a chilly desert night to the middle of our driveway in Phoenix, Arizona, a coat over my pajamas a gaggle of stars blinking overhead. The three of us took our wooden spoons and banged away at our hollow cooking vessels shouting, “Happy New Year!” The feeling of sheer exhilaration for a 5 or 6 year old to be granted permission to disrupt all the norms, if even for just 45 seconds.
As years went by, and a baby brother eventually joined me out on the driveway, we would skip the ball proper, stationing ourselves outside a few minutes prior, my mom looking at her watch to let us know when to create our moment of happy havoc.
I was talking with my mom yesterday, asking her how our tradition started. “It was a spur of the moment thing, we didn’t have any actual noisemakers or horns, so I improvised.”
This is one tradition that goes in the keeper pile for when I have my own children.
I hope your 2012 is full of improvisations and happy havoc. Thank you all for helping to make 2011 one of the best years of my life.