What better way to begin the New Year than with a bribe? Or maybe I was just trying to end the old year with one? I’m not sure, and I guess it really doesn’t matter.
Every year we usually do the same thing to celebrate New Year’s Eve – we go out to eat, with between 2 and 5 of our own kids, and up to 7 of theirs. Then we go home, and try very hard to stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year. I give the kids fake champagne in fancy glasses, and we all go out on the front porch (under the car port to avoid any falling bullets) where the kids bang on pots and pans, and yell “Happy New Year” as loud as they can. Then we go to bed.
At least we parents do. What can I say? I’m old and boring (at least late-night on New Year’s Eve). But last year I promised my little boy that next year we would consider going to the New Year’s Eve celebration downtown and watch the fireworks.
How did “next year” get here so fast? I didn’t even remember my “promise to consider”. But you know that he did.
So we told him we’d try to go, after we went to a late dinner.
But even after our late dinner, we still had 2.5 hours to midnight, and we didn’t want to stand around in the cold for that long. We decided to go to a friend’s house to pass some time, and on the way, we looked at Christmas lights (another of our procrastinations).
But we old folks still couldn’t see how standing out in the cold for hours was a cooler thing to do than snuggling in our warm bed and reading a book/watching TV. But this year, even my thirteen-year-old girl wasn’t interested in going – she said she was tired; she was falling asleep. Go figure. (But at least it wasn’t just we “old people” this year).
Then an idea of brilliance hit me. I’d helped my little boy online-shop for Gears of War action figures earlier in the day, and he was only able to afford one instead of two (they are expensive and hard to find). What if I gave him the choice of either going to the celebration, or getting that second action figure he couldn’t afford? (One good thing about being older – you usually have more cash). Of course, just a consolation prize so he wouldn’t feel too bad about missing the fireworks. NOT A BRIBE! A CONSOLATION PRIZE!
I felt sure he’d go for it. After all, he’d even had me Tweet Cliff Bleszinski, the designer for Epic Games who created Gears of War, his favorite X-Box game, to see if he could discuss characters and plot with him (of course, to no avail: therealcliffyb probably doesn’t have time for brilliant nine-year-olds). But I truly thought this would be a win-win for all of us!
I was shocked that he didn’t jump at the chance. Not only did he not jump, he was just very saddened at the fact that the rest of us really didn’t want to go. Then he just gave in, because he didn’t want to make his family do something they didn’t want to do on New Year’s Eve. He didn’t seem to care about the action figure at all.
CRAP! I didn’t have the heart to stand him up.
So we drove into the mass of cars parked downtown, and made our way into the area that housed the stage, and music, and massive digital screens which decorated the buildings (a Times Square wanna-be). We were actually squished in the middle of about two-gazillion twenty-something-year-olds, with beers in their hands. My little boy was so short, he could barely see anything, and there wasn’t even room to try to hold him up.
But we listened to music, and watched the fireworks go off at midnight (the fireworks dancing to the music – very cool), and wished each other Happy New Year. And we actually made it out of the crowded mass without being flattened or trampled. (The only casualty of the evening was my teen-aged daughter’s coat which got sprayed with champagne, and now “smelled like beer”, to her great dismay).
And I had to admit, I’m glad we went. It was kind of a cool way to say goodbye to 2010, and welcome 2011. My older kids celebrated at home this year – imagine that. I was crazier than they were. Maybe I’ll even do something else this year that is out of character for an old person.
K. L. loves noisy clocks, fuzzy blankets, anything pink, and all things Santa Claus. And she HATES the word normal. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Inc., the Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association, National Book Critics' Circle, and the Writers’ League of Texas. Please visit her at www.klromo.com or @klromo on Twitter.
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