New Year’s Eve stresses me out because there’s this unspoken pressure for it to be the best party of the year. It never is! When expectations are too high, disappointment is always right around the corner. I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but when it comes to New Year’s, I’ve learned that’s pretty much always the case. That said, I’ve have a few good ones.
The first real party of my life happened on New Year’s Eve in Sardinia, Italy, when I was sixteen. I was strictly forbidden from drinking alcohol, according to the rules of the Rotary Club that hosted my exchange, but that was okay. There was so much booze around me that I must have imbibed it from the very atmosphere, for I spent the night eating roast lamb, homemade pasta, and dancing wildly to the Black-Eyed Peas in the basement cantina of my friend Valentina’s house.
New Year’s Eve in Brazil was also pretty fun. We went to Boa Viagem beach in Recife, the large northeastern city where I lived, and it seemed like the whole world was there. Everyone was dressed in white and many people were jumping over the seven waves that rolled in from the sea, a traditional act of luck that heralds from the old African gods of the slavery days. I don’t even remember what my friends and I did all night, but we watched the sun rise over the Atlantic before stumbling home, exhausted and exhilarated, at 6 a.m.
Then there were all the lovely house parties I’ve attended in Canada at my parents’ home with lots of guests, playing hide and seek with other kids, eating cheese fondue, dancing to The Raw and The Cooked, and skating on the outdoor rink. Those parties in Toronto during my university years usually involved my less stellar moments like flaming Sambuca in the mouth and a horrific hangover that seriously impeded my ability to be a gracious hostess to the family of unexpected guests that showed up on January 1st.
Those are the good parties. Then there was the absolute worst New Year’s of my life when I’d just found out I was pregnant. The future between me and my boyfriend was totally uncertain, so instead of going to the party we’d been planning to attend together, I was stuck at my parents’ house up north, with no electricity or hot water, so I couldn’t even have a leisurely bath to calm down. Instead, I took my candle up to bed and fell asleep by 10 p.m., miserably waiting to see what 2009 would bring. Fortunately it turned out to be the best year of my life, including a solid commitment from my boyfriend (now my husband) and the healthy birth of our baby boy.
So, with that in mind, this year’s plans for a low-key board game night with my family and some friends seem quite awesome. What would have seemed like a punishment five years ago will now be the highlight of my month! Having kids has severely limited our ability to party like we used to, but no worries — there are plenty of years left for that!
What are some of your best and worst New Year’s Eve stories?