After the Fact: The old ball game


Staying awake to watch the crystal ball fall in Times’ Square at midnight has, for me, all the appeal of shoveling 3’ of snow from my driveway. I used to do it. I don’t anymore.

It must have been 25 or more years ago when my sister-in-law, Jeri, insisted she, mom and I should have our own New Year’s party and she’d bring the champagne. Mom and I were a poor substitute for a real party, but my brother, Steve, was off goose hunting in Texas. So, Jeri, a budding chef, cooked up trays and trays of appetizers, all guaranteed to add the extra pounds I’d tried to avoid at Christmas and put the champagne in the fridge (our elegance didn’t extend to ice buckets).

We were dressed in fancy flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers, wrapped up in plush blankets, seated in comfortable chairs in front of the TV. I don’t remember what we watched and I don’t remember mom toddling off to bed. When I woke up, I had a “crik” in my neck that wouldn’t let go and my blanket was tangled into an unbelievable knot.  Instead of standing up, I sort of rolled out of the chair and managed to untangle myself sufficiently to crawl across the room. Jeri had toasted the arrival of the new year with a glass of champagne, but the mostly-full bottle stood next to her chair. For some reason, she never invited mom or me to a New Year’s party again. And it took me three days to straighten my neck. Driving is unbelievably difficult when you’re looking through eyes that are in a horizontal head. 

I’ve never understood the reasoning behind New Year’s Eve parties where everyone over-indulges in Cheese Whiz-covered Ritz crackers, little sausages in barbecue sauce and potato chips while drinking enough champagne to float the Titanic, festivities guaranteed to give you heartburn and a hangover, too. Why would you want to start a new year feeling like you’d just swallowed your pillow?

Then there’s the other illogical tradition: New Year’s resolutions. That’s where we make up a list of all the bad habits we’re going to change in the next 365 days (that we’ve been doing for the past 365 days before). This year, you might even make it until Friday before your determination has disappeared entirely. 

This year, I resolve to spend less time in my pink bathrobe. Unless the outdoor temperature is at or below freezing or unless it’s before noon.

I resolve to give up my after bedtime hourly snacks (in exchange for a piece of chocolate cake or pie with whipped cream for breakfast).

The older you get, the fewer things there are that you can, or want to give up.  Remember when you’d have been happy to forego your afternoon nap? Now, we look forward to it. Or reading past bedtime? Now, bedtime is determined by when we fall asleep with the book in our lap. Kids today don’t so much read past bedtime as they watch TV or message friends on their phones all night but they also don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

I resolve to call my brothers more often, whether they think that’s a grand idea or not. They don’t text message so that’s not an option. I don’t text message so it’s REALLY not an option.

I resolve to clear the other side of my bed of books, logic puzzle magazines, unopened mail and catalogs so that I’ll have room for new stuff in the coming year. Except for the book I am reading right now and the one I intend to read next. And maybe an extra, just in case.

And, mostly, I resolve to procrastinate less. After I finish reading just one more chapter.

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