That's Life: New Year's in Times Square

By Phyllis McGuireiBerkshires Columnist
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will not be partying to welcome in the New Year. After a very busy Christmas week, I am content to stay home, watching TV as the world-famous ball in Times Square descends.
When I was a child, my sisters and I celebrated New Year's Eve by making noise that could be heard by our neighbors.  Regardless of how cold it was, Mother would open the window in our bedroom, and we kids would stand there, hitting mother's big cooking spoons against pots and pans.
Some years, we traveled from our apartment in the Bronx to my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Charlie's home in Astoria. There on the stroke of midnight, our cousins as well as my sisters and me would bang on pots and pans. Then my Uncle would try to persuade us to eat fish, because he believed doing so would bring good luck in the New Year.
We would stay overnight, my parents using the spare room, and my sisters and I occupying the convertible couch in the living room. As Uncle Charlie opened the couch into a bed, he would say, "It's good Lil bought this or you wouldn't have a place to sleep."
Truth be told, we suffered more than slept on that couch: It was like laying on metal rods, and we rolled back and forth searching in vain for a comfortable spot.
The first time I was not under my parents' watchful eyes on New Year's Eve I was two months shy of my 18th birthday. My date, Al, and I went along with my sister, Claire — five years my senior — and her beau, Bob, to a nightclub in Manhattan.
I felt very sophisticated as I danced at the nightclub, wearing a blue satin gown, blue satin high-heeled pumps, and a chignon at the nape of my neck.
Around 11 o'clock we walked to Times Square because we so wanted to count down the seconds to midnight as an illuminated ball dropped from atop One Times Square.
When we arrived, Times Square was already crowded with people wearing party hats and carrying balloons and noisemakers. In the crush, it was difficult to breathe. But in the cold air, tiny clouds floated from our mouths, proving we were indeed inhaling and exhaling.
At midnight, the crowd roared "Happy New Year." Couples kissed, some keeping their lips locked long after midnight. (Isn't love grand?)
As the crowd dispersed, Al hovered protectively over me to ensure that we would not become separated. Together with the rest of our group, we returned to the nightclub, where we partied until closing. Then we walked to a diner that was open 24/7 and ate breakfast, laughing and chatting between bites. My eyes were drooping as my date and Claire's beau escorted us home around 8 a.m.
I never again celebrated New Year's Eve at Times Square. Perhaps it is just as well, for the thrill of being there the first time could not have been matched.



Tags: holiday story,   new year,   That's Life,   

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