Movin on with Nellie: Counting the New Years


Oh, my. New Year’s Eve is coming soon. 

When I was a teen, I phoned my friends, planned slumber parties, popped popcorn and rolled popcorn into Karo syrup and into colored balls.

We’d giggle and we’d watch the countdown on TV from Times Square and flipped channels to see Guy Lombardo or Dick Clark who never even aged.

In my senior year, I remember the New Year’s Eve ball dropped as I was leaning on the high windowsill peering at dancing lights in the Alaskan sky.

Even Anchorage’s city lights couldn’t dim the winter wiles of the aurora borealis — electric atmospheres. My parents slept. My sisters tugged at their blankets. I patted my Australian Shepherd and breathed in all the northern lights that I could. I counted the blues, the yellows, the reds, the blended purples, the whites. I minded the night sky as midnight came blistering in the night with all the charm of Eskimo tales.

On New Year’s Eve 1979, I remember buckling the seat belt around my son and piling the wash clothes into the Luv truck, counting my quarters, and counting twice. “Yes! I can buy a Diet Dr. Pepper!” At the Prairie Lee Laundromat, a couple shared some harsh words. I didn’t see either smile. Looking beyond them, I noticed my 3-year-old son.

On his blue and yellow shoe car from K-Mart, he scooted here and there; he giggled; he squealed. As the clock approached midnight, he conked out in my arms holding his little bear, Tubby, with the sign around its neck — Tubby loves you. I felt the plastering heat from the 200-pound dryer as my comforter and cotton towels tumbled and tumbled in the dryer and added to the Texas sweltering heat.  Half past midnight, I felt like I wore a sign like Tubby’s — Mom loves you — as I carried my son into the house and then the folded clothes in basket.

In 1994, I picked up the phone and heard “Happy New Year, Mom.” By then he was on the trip with his high school band and jazz band. A blast of noise from Branson and later Nashville swelled in my ears.

I remember the New Year’s that I watched my 11th-grade son play with his punk band, Short Circus, at a restaurant café — Bonanza. His classmates arrived, sang along, rocked while head banging and I sipped a thick latte — then another. It was warm at the table and I was surrounded by cozy conversations. The snow blanketed the streets within a few minutes, streetlights dangled in the blowing snow, but the electric guitars and echoing amps rang out with heartfelt heat for the year.

I remember one year when I answered the phone just as my Mickey Mouse watch chimed midnight. “Hello,” my mom said. “Happy New Year.” We spent half hour or more checking the online dictionary and Wikipedia for answers to her crossword puzzles.

Again, New Year’s is coming. It beckons; it rocks. It brings us new chances, unique changes, and first-hand camera eyes.

New Year’s give me your best … phone calls, Facebook memes, texts, emails, streaming Disney Plus, and aurora borealis.

Here’s wishing a year where everyone can pay their mortgages, buy groceries, keep up with their utilities and enjoy soft ice cream cones.

—Nelda Curtiss is a former substance-prevention media specialist, journalist, and retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]

Advertisement