A few hours ago, our house was ringing with the sounds of a dozen yelling, running children celebrating at our inaugural New Year's Eve Kids' Ball. They decorated cookies, thundered up and down our hallways, and jumped on bubble wrap under a balloon drop at "midnight."
It was a new threshold for New Year's. This has always been one of my favorite holidays, full of nostalgia and promise and champagne. For many years, I spent the night drinking with my girlfriends at New Year's parties, and in 2003, I walked into a party and saw a man standing in the kitchen who would later make a Kitchen Widow out of me.
But tonight, New Year's shifted focus and was about my kids. It was a turning point, just like the first night you bring your newborn home and realize that good sleep is gone, or when you realize that Christmas is absolutely not about you anymore. Part of the shift was just out of necessity; I am too old to crash on someone's floor after drinking keg beer out of a plastic cup until three in the morning. I am almost too old for going out, period.
Our New Year's traditions changed as soon as we had kids. We stayed in and went to bed early. But something always felt empty. I did not necessarily miss throngs of people or a New Year's Day hangover, but I missed the air of celebration.
I am reluctant to let go of New Year's forever, though. So instead, I will channel my love of New Year's into my children. We will forgo the champagne for sparkling juice, we will do the big countdown at six instead of midnight, we will play with balloons and toys, we will be noisy in that joyful way that children have. We will end the year as happily as we spent it.
As I sit awaiting the ball drop, alone with my champagne and pondering the resolutions I will quickly break, I am content in our new manner of celebration. It was a great thrill for my kids ... and you cannot get a headache from sparkling apple cider.