Since I don't celebrate Christmas, I have always made New Year's Eve the focal point of my holiday festivities.
In my single days, New Year's Eve was a night when parties were heightened with flirty dresses and fancy cocktails and boys that looked much cuter at midnight. The evening would always take so many unexpected twists and turns that you never knew exactly where you were going to end up at midnight— scaling an icy fire escape to get an awesome rooftop view of the ball dropping in Times Square, kissing a handsome stranger from Australia whose name you couldn't get quite right, jokingly accepting a dance-off challenge at a loft party in Tribeca and then watching in horror as an expectant circle of party-goers formed around you... anything and everything was possible.
Later on, when my friends started coupling off, I made a tradition of throwing big pot luck dinners. Using desks and bridge tables and lots of white tablecloths, I would create one long dining room table that would stretch the entire length of my apartment. I'd borrow place settings and silverware from neighbors to make sure that no person was left with something unworthy of New Year's Eve like a paper plate or a plastic champagne glass. My guests didn't bring six packs or bags of chips. They rose to the occasion with crabcakes and short ribs with specific cooking times and fancy serving dishes. One year, a friend whipped up made-to-order crepes for dessert and another year, someone came armed with a blender and a signature cocktail. I always had three playlists worked out— one for before dinner, one for during and one to hit at midnight. It wasn't unpredictable but it was still exactly what New Year's Eve, in my mind, was supposed to be— SPECIAL.
And then we had a baby. If there is anything sad about having a baby (cover your ears, Mazzy), it is the loss of New Year's Eve. Last year we were supposed to have a dinner party with two other couples who also had newborns. Mazzy, at the time, was less than a month old. But one of the babies got sick and as a result we only had one couple over. Which was lovely. But it was no New Year's Eve.
And then there was THIS year. When I compare last year to this year, last year seems like we were partying at Lindsay Lohan-like proportions. THIS New Year's Eve, as opposed to every other eve in the history of eves, I fell asleep before 12am. In fact, I fell asleep so far before midnight, that you could have watched The Lord of the Rings in the time that elapsed between me passing out on the couch and the ball dropping.
The night wasn't a total wash. We went over to my sister's at 6pm for a cocktail with the baby (she drank milk with a water chaser) and got home at around 8pm, a half hour past Mazzy's bedtime (crazy!) Then Mike cooked a delicious steak dinner which we paired with a bottle of red that we had bought on our honeymoon. After dinner, we settled on the couch with our glasses of wine. The last thing I remember was Mike saying, "Put your glass down, you are about to fall asleep and spill your drink".
That was no later than 10pm.
The next thing I knew, Mike and I woke up, startled, still on the couch. After some confusion, we deciphered that it was 5am. Wait— WHAT?? Where did New Year's Eve go? Did the ball drop?
Turns out, it all goes down even when you sleep right through it. Someone was still kissing a stranger and someone else was gallivanting on a rooftop and quite possibly someone else was killing it at a dance-off doing "The Worm". It just probably wasn't someone with a one-year-old.
But that's ok. Cause now I'm thinking— if I did "The Worm" on the floor of a New Year's Eve party*, I can't even imagine the level of disgustingness that would make it's way onto my shirt. And that rooftop must have been freezing. And looking back I could have totally killed myself on that icy firescape! As for that Australian guy? He was hot but who the hell has a name like Lochlund?
My new reality is that no New Year's Eve can beat being clean, warm and snuggled at home with the person you love. You want special? Sneak into the next room to take a peak at your baby while she sleeps. It never gets old.
Speaking of the baby, a good night's sleep sounds like the perfect way to ring in the new year...
To all my readers with children,
May 2011 be filled with lots and lots of precious SLEEP.
Love, Mommy Shorts
• I don't remember what I did at that midnight dance-off because I was drizzunk. But I am pretty positive that I did not, nor have I ever, done "The Worm".
Ilana is a NYC based working mom, read more from her on Mommy Shorts.