An Ideal New Year’s Eve
It has to be small. Intimate. To be surrounded by others, drowning in a sea of strangers is not my idea of a good start to the new year. A night in at home, snacks laid out in bowls across the extended dining table for people to pick at as the evening wears on. Mum and dad potter about in the kitchen; dad’s eyes occasionally flicking over to the grill to ensure the pigs-in-blankets are just this side of crispy while mum monitors the chicken wings rotating in the microwave, making sure plates are ready to serve them up on.
Some guests have set up campy at the dinner table, within easy reach of the nibbles that they attack during lulls in conversation, gossiping about their respective families. The men have congregated like a herd into the conservatory, the white Christmas lights serving as the only illumination in the often desolate space. Each holds a can of lager, regaling the others of stories about their families. Because when men do it, it is regaling, not gossiping.
I sit in my usual seat on the couch, legs tucked underneath, no longer caring about the creases that are no doubt forming in the blue dress I had bought and prepared especially. I’m too comfortable to care. My head rests on his shoulder as his fingers card absently through my hair. I’m glad I opted out of the hairspray and gel combination; it’s much more pleasant when the fingers don’t get stuck. We’re both watching something completely dull on the BBC, a show that is taking a verbal thrashing from our more-than-a-little-tipsy friends on the adjacent sofa. The heckling becomes so raucous, mum comes in to tell us to quiet down but not leaving before she has forced more food on us. What with the laughter and the food, I have given myself a stitch and decide to move around a little. Once up, it seems like a good idea to put something decent on. Without a moments thought, I am putting in the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Specials. Within minutes, laughter is reverberating through the rooms; with, this time, rather than at. The gossipers and regalers are drawn from their hiding places by the joyful sound and start to settle where they can, revelling in the humour of a time that was more innocent and fun.
11:45 approaches and we return to the BBC, watching the footage of the crowd in London and thinking them completely insane. We are shown what to expect from the year to comeand what we are leaving behind. But this isn’t about the big picture; this is small. Intimate. Here, in this room, with everone I care about most, starting out another year, another journey in good company.
We watch the projected countdown, dad starting outloud a good 35 seconds before everyone else. 10…9…8…people double-check they have a glass to hand…7…6…5…guests shuffle instinctively closer to their other halves…4…3…2…1.
The chimes of Big Ben ring loud across London and into our home, fireworks lighting up the sky in the beautiful display. Inside are the clinks of glasses and the clunks of beer cans coupled with scattered wishes of a Happy New Year. A kiss is pressed teasingly to my temple before I tilt my chin up to claim something a little more satisfying. No-one pairs off for a good while after, just enjoying the closeness they are forced into from the uncompromising living room space. Plans of the future are discussed: holidays, goals, resolutions, some wholly terrifying schemes the now-truly-intoxicated friends are threatening to force us into.
But, for once, I don’t want to think about the future, because I am perfectly happy right in this very moment. My only goal, my only resolution is to keep it that way the year round.