This morning I sent a dear friend an email and part of it expressed how magical the time was when we grew up. As we are on the heels of a new year, a new decade, I am taken back to the days when days were more streamlined. Oh, it was just as stressful back in the good old days, but for a much more limited number of reasons. Frittering your time away didn't involve software.
We grew up in a neighborhood with Victorian era homes populated with neighbors who owned matching mentalities. The times were busy reflecting images in the shiny surface of Sputnic I. It was not without its flaws, but it was a magical time.
On New Years, our family always celebrated together. December 31st, was accompanied by Mom reminding Dad to start cooking the January 1st dinner of pork roast with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. It didn't take much urging since he so thoroughly enjoyed cooking. For them, good luck started with a small taste of the New Years dinner immediately after all the fuss associated with the clock striking midnight.
As an added treat, we kids were permitted to take naps and were warned to stay in good humor if we wanted to stay up late to ring in the New Year. Not being in bed by 9 o'clock was wild enough, but we also became full participants in the festivities when the clock struck 12 and couldn't hold the excitement of it all.
As the clock hands moved to meet, we armed ourselves with pots, pot lids, serving spoons, and large cooking utensils. Then we'd poise ourselves between Mom at the back door and Dad at the front door. She would open the back door as we would bang our equipment, yelling at the top of our lungs for the old year to leave. We didn't need it any longer and all the baggage it brought. Then we'd run through the back hallway to the vestibule and front hall, banging our pots with all we were worth traveling the entire path. Once we joined Dad, he'd open the door with a sweeping gesture befitting a queen's footman, greeting the New Year, welcoming it in. A New Year: it was brimming with hope, opportunities, and clean slates.
One might think that enough, but why stop there? Dressed in our finest plaid flannel jammies and house coats, leather soled moccasin slippers (or penny loafers if need be), we'd march down the steps of our porch, onto the front sidewalk, down a few doorways (to old Mrs. Gallagher's dismay), and back up the steps for the original metal band's finale. A few years we had other acts which followed. Periodically, Dad would fire his Colt pistol up in the air over the densely wooded valley behind our home overlooking the site where William Kelly invented his version of what became known as the Bessemer process of making steel. William Kelly and Steel Making
Then, if the wind was at our Irish backs, Dad would produce a brown paper bag from the restricted top shelf of his closet where it had been secreted away since July. It was usually full of M-80s and other fire work wonders. Dad's closet was always forbidden territory because we knew it held his guns, a service revolver, bullets, and FIREWORKS. The only time this area was willfully opened to visitors was when our cat, Puddy, delivered 12 kittens there, one in every shoe the poor guy owned. That day he had to wear his slipper to the store and buy shoes so he could go to work.
Once the last of the explosions and flared lights illuminated the back yard, and Mom stopped grasping at her throat, yelling to be careful punctuated with refrains of "OH MY" and "MERCY" we'd retire to the dinning room for our taste of Dad's pork and sauerkraut. Life was good. It was difficult falling asleep after such excitement and it was an event I looked forward to each year.
Magical doesn't do the days then justice. I think you had to be there. HAPPY NEW YEARS, MY FRIENDS. May 2011 bring you everything you need and most of what you want.
See you in the next few days with installment 3 of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MORGAN.