A lot of my own holiday traditions mirror those of Natalie Wood's. Her home was always an open house Christmas Eve filled with family and children, as is mine. Each year, I also hold a New Year's Eve party. It started many decades ago when my children were young and I was uncomfortable leaving them with sitters. We had many friends in the same situation and occasionally shared a sitter, but we never really had much fun out in clubs on New Year's Eve. Food would be terrible, drinks expensive, and music too loud. Plus, there was the issue of getting home safely. So, I started a tradition of holding an open house NYE party where couples could bring their children and extra friends, and expect a fun night with good food, nice music, conversation, and a morning breakfast should they choose to sleep over. Even when I had a smaller house, it always worked out.
For so many years, I have never left my own home on New Year's Eve with the exception of Y2K when Bob and I attended his cousin's wedding that night. Not once have I regretted being home on this night. On many years, we've had live entertainment via musical friends. Last year was a little quieter, but we always sing. New Year's Eve is a night for singing. We laugh and have a great time. (And the kids bang pots and pans...the true way to ring in the New Year.)
One year, I held a black tie affair and everyone loved it, but that was only once. Everyone still looks special for New Year's Eve as it seems to be a night that deserves it. Of course, Frank Sinatra never showed up to sing at my parties, like would possibly happen at Natalie's NYE parties, but we've had some awesome talent many times, right in our own living room. One year, lead singer of popular band played for us all night long. Another, many years ago, a West Point album singer played piano until dawn (one of my favorite NYE) and he sounded just like Billy Joel. He played "Piano Man" wonderfully. Mostly, it's Bob with Karaoke, but he "ain't too bad" -- and there are lots of mikes to go around. We played Beatles Rock Band last year. It's a lot of fun.
Right before midnight, I pour champagne in flutes for all adults, but I have my own little ritual. In one hand, I hold an unopened bottle of Asti Spumante (I like Italian champagne, although French will do), and in the other hand I hold a dollar bill (my Italian mother taught me this superstitious tradition when I was a toddler...supposed to mean you will never be broke the following year, and apparently it has worked for me) ... THEN, at midnight, at the turning point, I loudly pop the cork on my bottle, yell "Happy New Year", then take my first Asti taste for the New Year (from the bottle). I hold onto my dollar bill, then I kiss Bob before going up to every individual present to hug and wish them the very best new year. There are lots of good wishes shared in my home at midnight on this night. Of course the phone starts ringing and tipsy good wishes are shared. Then, I pass around my Asti bottle and everyone here must sign it...I have far too many New Year's Eve bottles in my attic...some on a shelf. I usually stop drinking after midnight because I know I've got a mega breakfast to cook for everyone the next morning. We usually play a game after midnight, maybe Trivial Pursuit or cards.
But, it's the moment the ball drops that gets me... it's MY moment. It never fails to send chills through me. I imagine it's that way for most people, and that's a wonderful thing. It proves that the blood is warm and moving and life is appreciated. These are the special moments of life.
I wish you all a Happy New Year's Eve, and I hope there's a moment of spark in it for all of you. I also wish you a tremendously Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, and Safe New Year with all good things possible to come your way.