Amblin' Alameda: Happy new year

Amblin' Alameda: Happy new year

Morton Chalfy

Photo by Anna Langova courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net.

How the celebration of the new year has changed in my life:

In my youth the celebration was conducted on New Year's Eve, with riotous drinking and sloppy kisses, in parties with friends and strangers. Over the years the drinking slowed, the rioting dropped away and the number of celebrants diminished. Eventually, staying up until midnight became ludicrous and New Year's Eve became another night to avoid going out. So much for traditional noisy celebrations of the end of the year.

Nowadays I've become party to my sweetie's annual New Year's Day gathering, held on the first of January from noon to 5 p.m. with old friends and a sprinkling of new ones. This year was no different. It takes several days to prepare for the party, rounding up the food, moving furniture to make room and doing the "rain, rain go away" dance in the hope of good weather. This year the dance worked: Rain stayed away, temperatures moderated and a good time was had by all.

Many people were too ill to attend the festivities except by phone, but a few new-to-the-party guests showed up and provided new sparks to the conversational mix. We had live music from one of the guests and a couple of serendipitous meetings between people who knew each other but hadn't known of the mutual friend giving the party. "I didn't know you knew..." was bandied about more than once, which made for some interesting conversations. I'm pretty sure a few new friendships were also made that day.

At about 3 p.m. we reached the high point of people in the house and the conversational level was pretty loud. There were talks about politics, health, spiritual beliefs and music all going on at once and consequently, the mood of the house itself was rollicking.

The old rule of New Year's Eve was to bring in the year with the people you want to spend it with. The new rule is be happy we're all still alive to see it in and hope to get through another year without going under. Aging will definitely change one's perspective on things.

When it was over and we had collapsed into our bed, we were tired but happy. Seeing old friends, having a good time with them, socializing with the newbies, watching new connections form all contributed to the sense of being alive and being re-energized and somewhat prepared to head into the new year with a new shot of vitality.

We may have moved the party forward half a day and we may have cut down on the drinking (and hangovers), but we have kept the spirit: Share the time with friends old and new and start the year on a positive note! And so, a little late but still heartfelt, Happy New Year!