Half-way Out of the Dark

The writing staff from Dr. Who might consider Christmas to be the point of the year at which we’re half way out of the dark, and while I suppose it’s true from a “well, you know, the winter solstice” point of view, for me, that midpoint comes a little later – on New Year’s Eve. You know, tonight. I guess it’s because we’re flipping a calendar page and crossing off days in a new year, and hoping that – with or without specific resolutions – we’ll all be better from the new day forward.

But before there’s the day, we have to have the night. New Year’s Eve…when drunk people sing a song they don’t understand, off-key, loudly, and in public.

Well, not at my house.

We thought about having a quiet night, just the two of us, and watching movies, but the reality is that I wanted to ring in the new year with friends, so we had a quiet soiree, with two other couples, and another friend. I provided cheese, crackers, chips, salsa and beverages that came in hot, cold, alcoholic and alcohol-free. Ms. M.S. showed up with grocery bags, and proceeded to cook us a special meal to be eaten after the year had turned over, sharing her personal traditions with us.

There were black-eyed peas, for luck and collard greens for prosperity (money), and sauerkraut with chunks of tender pork just because she had grown up eating that, and, because none of us has yet learned to cook less than a metric ass-load of anything, there was enough for each of us to have some leftovers.

And so, on this cold, clear night, while the wind whispered love songs in the trees, and the birds roosted in the thickest, most sheltered branches, we talked and laughed and drank and ate. In Mexico, friends of my parents made sure to walk around the block with their empty suitcases, to ensure a year of travel, and while we didn’t do that, we did do some symbolic sweeping away of 2010, and we did toast the new year with sparkling beverages (asti for some of us, sparkling cranberry for others) and shared kisses with each other, and the dogs, and cleaned up, and then had mochas to send those driving on their way.

Fuzzy’s sick, so we sent him to bed early, but everyone else stayed til just after two, and while part of me wanted it to be one of those talk-til-dawn kinds of nights, where everyone crashes in one house, I’m glad to have the still, quiet of my own space back, and I’m looking forward to undecorating the house. I don’t usually do this on New Year’s Day, preferring to keep everything up til Epiphany, but for some reason, even though it’s the same number of days, having the holidays fall on weekends has made the time seem longer, and I’m ready for signs of Christmas to be bundled back into boxes until next year.

“Things have to end. Otherwise nothing would ever get started,” said the 11th Doctor in last week’s Christmas episode, a Dr. Who riff on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and that’s true of everything: childhood, vacations, weekends, Christmas…years, seasons, winter…everything.

2010 was not the worst year ever for me, but it was particularly challenging and held far too many disappointments. I’m hoping 2011 will be better for everyone.

And as for me, it’s four in the morning on the first day of a new year, and I’m sitting in bed typing on my laptop will my husband and our dogs sleep nearby. I’m sipping the last of the asti, and getting ready to give myself some dreamtime, and as tired as I am, I still have the warm glow of friendship surrounding me.

Because we’re half way out of the dark, and the sunlight that’s coming is bright and clean and new.

Happy New Year.