When I was growing up, New Year's Eve was always a time for celebration with family and friends. The focus for us wasn't resolutions or contemplation; rather, it was remembering how lucky we were to have each other and great friends and family. The new year represented another year that we could continue to appreciate all that we were blessed with and continue to grow as people.
Most years, my parents packed up our pajamas and we drove to Annapolis to spend the night at their best friend's home. The evening usually consisted of lots of food, music and laughter. The kids would put on their pajamas, watch old movies and drink hot cocoa, and the adults would drink champagne and tell stories of the past. At midnight, we would put on Dick Clark and watch the ball drop while blowing on noisemakers and giving lots of hugs and kisses.
Now that I'm an adult, my family goes over to my husband's family's home and celebrates New Year's together. The entire family gathers there and we enjoy a wonderful meal and get to spend the evening together playing an assortment of games. The evening usually ends with a competitive Wii sports tournament that inevitably turns into a bunch of laughter and goofiness. At midnight, just like when I was growing up, we put on the television and watch the ball drop. I always feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love each other and have such a good time together.
There are many other wonderful and fun New Year's Eve traditions that you can share with your spouse or children. A tradition many of my friends have is celebrating with a decadent meal on New Year's Eve. Many local restaurants have New Year's Eve prix fixe dinner and cocktail specials, or even bands with music and dancing. If you are looking to stay in for the evening, New Year's Eve could be a great night to splurge on a fancy cut of meat or seafood that you may only cook occasionally. You could set the table with your elegant dishes and candles and purchase a nice bottle of champagne for a midnight toast.
Another traditional New Year's Eve meal with the family could involve a dish with black-eyed peas. The tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve is very popular in the southeastern United States. Many people eat them just after midnight, because it is believed that if black-eyed peas are the first food to be eaten on New Year's Day it will bring good luck. There are many recipes online for delicious black-eyed pea soup that can be made in the slow cooker.
If black-eyed peas are not your thing, you could start the tradition of eating twelve grapes in the first twelve seconds after midnight, a common New Year's Eve practice in the Spanish culture. The superstition is that if the twelve grapes are not eaten, a person could face extreme bad fortune in the coming year. The grapes, if eaten, symbolize luck for each of the twelve upcoming months in the new year. Eating that many grapes in such a short time can be a challenge, which makes the tradition even more fun. I am sure there will be many laughs in those twelve seconds participating and watching your family and friends try to ingest the grapes so quickly.
Just because you are staying in for the evening does not mean you have to miss out on the drinks and dancing. After dinner, you could turn your living room or basement into a discotheque. Turn the lights down, purchase an inexpensive rotating light machine, create an awesome playlist on your computer and dance the night away. You could also set up a cocktail bar with some signature libations and some Shirley Temples for the kids.
With all of this good food and fun, you are bound to create a New Year's to remember, while starting some new and fun family traditions to cherish.
Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at email@example.com.