Describe a New Year’s where you would have been better off just staying home.
Happy New Year from the great central valley of California where the weather is typical for this day of the year: Cold, overcast, dreary. The forecast for tonight? Dense fog. Visibility will drop to less than a tenth of a mile in some spots. It is not unusual to wake up on New Year’s Day and be unable to see the houses across the street.
Since BigBob and I both grew up in San Joaquin County, we have never been enthusiastic about going out to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. On this night, there is usually at least one serious vehicle collision in the area caused by a combination of drinking and driving too fast for the road conditions.
In addition, BigBob never stays up until midnight. He is usually asleep before we turn on the television to watch the ball drop in Times Square at 9:00 p.m. Pacific time. In a perfect world, I would stay up until three or four in the morning and sleep late every day. BigBob is the guy who wakes the rooster up to tell him it is time to crow and get the rest of the world moving.
I can only remember a couple of New Year’s Eves in the past 23 years that we have actually gone out to celebrate. Generally, we stay home where we enjoy a nice dinner and then watch movies or play games while enjoying a crackling fire. That way, we all stay safe and he can nod off whenever he likes. There have been many, many times when the boys and I have wished each other a Happy New Year with the sound of his snoring as a backdrop!
But there was New Year’s Eve 1987.
#1Son was always a happy, good-natured baby — a good sleeper who fell into a routine easily and maintained it. He woke up around 6:00 or 6:30 a.m., took a short nap around 9:00 a.m. and then played happily until mid-afternoon when he would usually sleep for another hour or so. He went to bed every night at about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. and slept until morning. On the rare occasion when he did awaken during the night, there was always a good reason, e.g., diaper failure, illness.
That year, we went out with my sister and brother-in-law, and a group of friends. My sister arranged for a babysitter to come to her house and care for both #1Son and my nephew on that quintessentially cold and foggy night. The food was not memorable, the music horrible, and it seemed that everyone at the party, except BigBob, was at least 20 years older than me. I remember sitting quietly at the table sipping my drink while they chatted about their grown children and grandchildren. A couple of women in our group were extremely catty — they spent the evening critiquing the hair, makeup, and wardrobe selections of virtually everyone in attendance.
When the party broke up, my brother-in-law dragged us off to his favorite downtown club in his Chrysler New Yorker with a malfunctioning rear window that would not go up. We were freezing in the back seat, the cold, damp air blasting our faces as we made our way up the frontage road and through the streets of Lodi. The atmosphere in the bar was worse than the party. After one polite drink, we headed for the car and I prayed that we were finally en route to their house so that I could bundle #1Son up and go home to my own cozy bed. No such luck. Next we were off to the local 24-hour diner to have breakfast.
We did not get back to their house until about 2:30 a.m., after which we had to navigate the foggy roads back to our own home. When we walked in, we found the babysitter sound asleep on the couch in the family room where she had dozed off while watching television. Both boys were perfectly fine. Predictably, #1Son had taken to her quickly, enjoyed playing with his cousin, and gone to sleep about 8:30 p.m.
He did not wake up when we bundled him up and put him into his car seat or as I carried him into our house and placed him in his crib. By that time, it was about 3:30 a.m. and I was exhausted.
At 6:00 a.m. — right on schedule — I heard the familiar sound of his happy morning babbling and cooing on the baby monitor. I had gotten about two hours of sleep.
BigBob also woke up and we spent a few moments lying there listening to #1Son with smiles on our tired faces because he was such a delightful, contented little guy. We were so tired we could barely speak, but made a pact that we would never again go out on New Year’s Eve if it meant getting only a couple of hours sleep and spending New Year’s Day absolutely worn out — unless we were guaranteed to have a lot more fun than the previous night! Fortunately, we had no plans for New Year’s Day and took turns caring for #1Son so that each of us could grab a nap.
The next time we went out on New Year’s Eve? 1999 when #1Son was 12 and MattieBoo was eight years old!