I turned 41 this past year. 41. The age where people can start saying; "Who, Eleanor? She's in her forties..." or "She's over 40 now." Or referring to me as middle aged. Gasp! I'd be lying if I said that this whole being over 40 thing didn't feel slightly traumatic.
Turning 40 didn't really bother me at all. In fact, throughout the year that I officially moved from one decade to another, telling people that I had a son who would be turning 20 actually made me feel older. It was then that I realized that I have, officially, been a parent for half of my life. There. I said it. And in bold font. I have spent exactly half of my time here on earth raising other human beings. Beings as in plural. Beings as in 2 of them that I gave birth to and also a husband who occasionally needs my extraordinary guidance. Geez. And then I wonder where the time has gone.
Although I have spent half of my lifetime trying to raise two good, solid citizens who appreciate the important things in life, (things like punk, new wave and indie music, John Hughes movies, Dr. Martens footwear, and spending summers eating from the three basic summertime food groups: Pop Rocks, Fun Dip, and Good Humor bars); it is not the catalyst that made me realize I am getting old. Nor are my creaky knees, arthritic fingers, graying hair or the fact that I used to be able to eat a cupcake whenever I wanted then eat salad for penitence. Nowadays, if I even make eye contact with a cupcake, one pops out from the side of my thigh. Or gives me a cankle. And yet still, none of these things really make me feel old.
Do you know what made me realize that I am getting old?
All the hoopla surrounding New Year's Eve. It's the truth. Everywhere I look on Pinterest there are DIY confetti poppers, sparkly drink recipes and handcrafted party hats. There are a bazillion blog posts about how to do your party makeup and what to wear to the New Year's bash you will be attending. Or what appetizers are easiest to make and serve at your very own party in order to earn the WOW factor.
New Year's Eve has made me realize the middle age is upon me. Why? Because I could care less about any of it. I have no desire to go anywhere, do anything or mess up my sleeping pattern staying up way too late to ring in a New Year. It is not worth drinking too much, passing out, waking up two hours later to spend the rest of the night in a cold sweat; tossing, turning and bargaining with God that if he makes me feel better I will promise to never drink again. In fact, I'm pretty sure that God has learned to tune me out at these times, just shaking his head and thinking, when will she ever learn? Kind of like Charlie does when he has found me (very rarely mind you) sleeping on the bathroom floor. He just steps over my pitiful self, goes about his business while quietly shaking his head and probably thinking "when will she ever learn?"
Last year while we were away at the Cabin in the Woods over the holidays, I remember waking up annoyed in the middle of the night (well, at midnight to be exact) hearing gunshots, fireworks and rednecks who were somewhere in the woods surrounding the cabin carrying on and whooping up a storm. While the cabin is stunningly gorgeous and in a bucolic, country setting, there are in fact some "sketchy" homesteads all around it. I was honestly just a wee bit nervous about it all. You know, people firing guns and shooting off fireworks unseen in the woods somewhere. I grew up in the burbs outside NYC, have seen Deliverance on more than one occasion and am still getting used to the whole rural lifestyle thing. Rural used to scare the hell out of me. While I have come to love and appreciate banjo music and our beloved Cabin in the Woods, rural can still make me nervous. But that is probably a story for another day.
The moral of today's story is that my lack of enthusiasm surrounding any and all New Year's festivities has made me feel old, grumpy and a little sad too. I grew up going to my grandparents New Year's parties throughout the 70's. Those two knew how to party. My family would make the trip to my grandparent's home where I would be tucked into bed long before the guests would arrive. Inevitably, I would climb out once the party had begun and sit at the top of the staircase watching the festivities below. Ladies would be decked out in gorgeous dresses, men in their suits all singing, dancing (I remember quite a few "conga" lines going past that staircase) and knocking back a few good cocktails. I'm sure God had to endure plenty of drunk bargaining sessions all night after those shindigs.
My favorite times were when a random adult would spot me sitting there on the stairs, swoop me up into their arms and bring me to the party. My parents partying faces would instantly drop and read, "Oh shit." when they noticed me, but everyone else thought I was adorable and eagerly offered up the liquor soaked fruit from their cocktail glasses as they passed me around. This is most likely why the Old Fashioned is probably my all time favorite drink. That fruit...just so damn good.
Why don't people party like that anymore?
I've lamented about this before. I would probably embrace New Year's Eve if it was like it was when I was little. But people are too tired, too busy and way too casual to recreate the soirees of yesteryear. It's a shame.
So tonight I will probably have a glass or two of wine, (not too much because I promised God on the first night of our camping trip back in September when I drank too many rum and cokes that I would never get drunk again) turn in by 10 the latest and wake up around 4am tomorrow to welcome 2015.
Creaky knees and all.
Happy New Year Friends!