01 January 2009

 And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 
     -Robert Burns

It's the first day of the new calendar year. It's too cold outside, so I figure I'll just take an internal constitutional today.

For the first time in two decades, we missed spending New Year's Eve with our friends. There was a snow storm yesterday that made the roads dangerous for driving. By mid-afternoon, we collectively made the decision to forego our celebration, and move it forward to tonight. We all agreed that trying to gather would be too risky, and we'd prefer to postpone, rather than brave the elements for a slice of roast beef, a glass (or two) of champagne, and a few midnight kisses. Better to wait until the weather is better.

As evening approached and the snow and wind whipped through the air, I turned my attention to dinner, which I'd not planned to cook. I finally opted for an omelet, creamed tomato soup (not canned), cheese platter, crusty bread, and an inexpensive but decent cabernet. We ate at the normal hour, just after 7:00, and took our time at the table. After we finished, my spouse cleared the table, and I donned several layers of clothes. The storm was ending, and it was time to dig out.

There was still plenty of strong wind, and because it was so cold, the snow was fluffy and crystalline. There wasn't any sound or traffic on our street. I briefly considered leaving things the way they were, but then decided I'd have a mess if the temperature raised a little between then and the morning, so I hauled out the shovel and snowblower, and went to work.

Half an hour later, I was finished. I put away my tools, took off my boots at the front door, and went back inside. My spouse asked me if it was cold. Yes, it was cold. He wanted to know if the road was plowed. Yes, it was plowed. He asked if there was much snow. Yes, there was a lot of snow. As I answered his questions, I shed coat, hat, scarf, gloves, extra socks, and extra sweater. I draped damp things near the heating ducts, and went to blow my nose. He went back to his computer, and we had no more conversation between us.

At 9:30, he went to bed, leaving me to sit in front of the television watching the New Year's Eve festivities as they occurred around the world. Fireworks in Australia, Germany, England; choirs and symphonies in Austria, France, and Canada. The whole world was amusing itself, having a grand party. I sipped my brandy as an operatic soprano sang "Auld Lang Syne," and found myself humming along with the tune. At 11:58, I changed the channel to ABC, to watch the 11,000 pound Waterford Crystal ball descend to New York Times Square, as pop icon Dick Clark counted down the final seconds to the year's end. For years, people--including myself--wondered if Dick Clark had the secret to eternal youth. Now, he looks a lot like Father Time incarnate. I noticed that although his stroke has left his speech somewhat impaired, he still had the gusto and energy for a big, lip-locking smooch with his wife at the end of the show. Good for him.

Brandy finished, broadcast of the world party over, I undressed and went to join my sleeping spouse and cats in our bed. Before I fell asleep, I considered that the evening, while not a party, had been absolutely perfect in its own way, and I didn't regret not facing the usual New Year's Day hangover. My cat curled his warm silky back against my knees, I fell asleep, and the new year felt positively glorious.

It still does.

Excuse me, I have to see if the popping sound in the kitchen is a champagne cork.


No comments: