It’s New Year’s Eve in the late 1960’s. My friend and I, my two brothers and a couple of other neighborhood kids are sitting on the floor in my parents’ bedroom playing Monopoly and watching Guy Lombardo on TV. We’re drinking Ginger Ale and eating cinnamon toast, potato chips and french onion dip, candy canes, chocolate drops and Fritos. We don’t care for the bean dip. The adult party is going on downstairs, an animated crowd of people that have been a part of our lives as long as we can remember, the voices coming up through the floor so familiar that we know who’s talking, whose laughing and sometimes even what story they’re telling. There’s an understanding that we’re to stay pretty much out of sight, but we don’t feel that our upstairs gathering is any less festive. It’s our own private party, with no adults around to monitor our squabbles or junk food free -for- all. The usual rules are lifted. It’s the last gasp of the holiday season, the final blast after two weeks of over excitement, bad eating and sleep deprivation.
But we don’t want to think about that for now. As long as one of us can slip downstairs for more chips and soda, and possibly a plate of canapés or cheese and crackers or whatever can be nabbed from the dining room table with minimal interaction with any of the adults, we’re good. We know Guy Lombardo is really corny and the broadcast from Time Square is kind of boring, but it doesn’t matter. The Monopoly game is endless, and still isn’t over when we realize it’s time. We all get up and run down to the kitchen for our equipment–the pots and pans and spoons that we take out into the cold, silent street, which at the stroke of midnight is silent no more as we herald in the New Year with all the banging and shouting and clanging we can muster. We are unrestrained in our celebration, knowing that the much anticipated holiday season is over and in a couple of days we’ll be waking to a frigid dawn, returning to school with lead in our step, our high spirits grounded. Forty years later, I can still feel it, but now I know what I didn’t know then— that it’s just a minute till spring.