Mom just woke us up so we could bring in the new year. It’s 11:50 pm.
We come downstairs and she places pot lids in our young hands, along with wooden spoons.
“Just a few minutes to go. Get ready, get ready!”
Mom shows us the box of noisemakers we can choose. Brightly colored and made of tin, they have little handles you hold onto. Spinning them around they make the best sound, only allowed on this day.
Still, we’d rather have the pots, they are louder.
In a matter of a minutes we will move through time. From one year into the next, out with the old, in with the new.
Our hearts start beating faster with each tick of the clock. It’s thrilling being up around midnight.
And before long, we’ll be tasting the greek tradition of Loukoumades. Pastries mom just made by dropping batter into hot oil. The honey she drizzled over the puffed balls is sticky, but we don’t mind. This memory is one that will last forever.
And finally she yells, “It’s time. Go ahead, go ahead!”
“Happy New Year!” we yell, banging our little hearts out.
We hear the sound of fireworks by those who brave this cold Chicago night. We stand outside yelling and screaming for a whopping five minutes.
And now we walk in with our coats buttoned over our pajamas, wearing big smiles. We did it.
Tomorrow we will have a special meal. Uncle Steve and Pattie will be over. They always celebrate special times with us.
The day has come. We watch as mom cuts the round loaf of greek bread she made. It smelled so good in the oven.
All of us hope our piece has the quarter in it. The one she took down from the chandelier and placed in the dough.
Whoever gets the quarter is supposed to have good fortune for the year. But first, she cuts a piece for “the house,” and if that piece has the quarter the good fortune is for the whole family.
I quickly search my slice to find no quarter. I glance at my siblings. This year my brother gets it. A smile covers his young face.
Quietly I wonder if I’ll ever be the one to get that special piece.
It’s decades later.
I look around. There is no handing out of pots and pans. There are no Loukoumades glazed with honey. And I’m not sure if there will be fireworks since I rarely stay up that late.
But it’s still New Year’s Eve and there will still be the passage of time.
Each year we sit and reflect on the year gone by. If it’s been a bad year we welcome the new year with open arms. And if the year has been good to us, we hope for the same.
It’s quiet, but that’s okay. The memories of other years gone by still parade through my mind.
And if I pause for just a moment, I can still see a little girl hitting a pot with a wooden spoon. A girl with a big smile on her face.
Happy New Year everyone.