Not much happens here in rural America on New Year’s Eve. Truth be told, if you are up at midnight it is probably because you have farm chores to do or you’re basting the pork roast for your family’s New Year’s Day brunch.
When I was a child, ringing in the New Year in rural America consisted of a card and game party at my parent’s house while the kids watched the ball drop in Time’s Square on TV. Not much has changed since I was a child. Mr. LucyLoves and I prefer a movie or music to today’s televised ringing in, as New Year’s Day is our holiday to host our family for a traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner so we are usually busy making preparations on New Year’s Eve. But on occasion we have ventured out, when the weather wasn’t terribly bad and a few others wanted to meet up for a night on the town at a local pub. If my eldest niece isn’t on duty, she has hosted a family gathering at her house. Otherwise, Mr. LucyLoves and I celebrate at home in cozy pajamas with a glass in hand. And so, this is life in the middle of nowhere.
I imagine the city dwellers attending street parties or dining with friends, wearing their sparkly garb and clinking champagne glasses while music blares in the background. I see couples attending the theatre or a museum event that promises some wonderment or another. I envision families walking through city center light displays and buying cocoa and roasted chestnuts from the street vendor. None of these are a reality here in rural America. We have a few restaurants and bars that stay open late and serve New Year’s Eve drinks while the big screen TVs are emblazoned with a variety of events. Churches open their doors for evening services. The local community theatre sometimes hosts a New Year’s Eve matinee. Little else happens here in the small town. If you are lucky, you might get invited to a friend’s house for dinner or host a party of your own. Otherwise, New Year’s Eve is like any other eve. Quiet and down to earth. And I love that.
After the bustle of Christmas preparations, celebrating for two days with family, and being relieved of the anticipation of Christmas morning, it’s nice to have a laid-back holiday. A quiet evening of cooking and setting the table for the next day’s feast. When New Year’s Day arrives, we can then enjoy a hot, cozy meal, talk, play a game or solve a puzzle with the kids and just be at peace. It is a joy to appreciate all the gifts we have in each other and relish life in our home. There is no chore in doing the dishes together after everyone has left, and to savor the peace of a hot cup of coffee and some leftover Christmas cookies. This is our rural American New Year.
The New Year holiday always puzzled me. As I child I wondered why everyone was so anxious to see the old year die. What was wrong with the old year? What is going to be so great about the new one? Perhaps that’s why I still appreciate a quiet ringing in. I don’t understand the excitement surrounding the transition. Nonetheless, I love this quiet, undisturbed holiday in my remote country house on a dark, dirt road. I love the only light coming from the stars overhead instead of a sparkling disco ball. I prefer the warmth of the fireplace over the blare of fireworks. This is what New Year’s means to me: a joyous but down-to-earth celebration of our future, just the way I want the future to be—quietly joyful and graciously blessed.
However you celebrate your New Year, live a beautiful life.