Twenty-one years ago we bought our house. Took possession in late October. Twenty-one years ago tonight we observed our first New Year’s Eve.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while Larry slept on the couch and I watched a movie with Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfus, something about a mall? When suddenly there came a knock at the door: bang, bang, bang.
“Larry! Wake up, someone’s at the door!”
Larry jumped off the couch and ran straight to the window furthest from the door.
“Lar, the door is over there,” I pointed impatiently, irritated that he should be asleep with someone at our door in the middle of the night.
He staggered back to the middle of the living room. Then he asked, “What time is it?”
“Midnight,” I answered.
He visibly relaxed and said, “Don’t worry about it, it’s just the Fourth of July.”
I was not reassured. “LARRY, someone was knocking at the door, WAKE UP.”
“No one is at the door,” he explained patiently. “What you hear is automatic gun fire.”
I was even less reassured. “Excuse me?”
“It’s midnight, New Year, people are shooting their guns in celebration.”
Well, of course, silly me. Larry went back to the couch and I hoisted my eight month pregnant self up the stairs to check on my babies. Specifically, to be sure no bullets had come falling through the roof. None had.
Over the years we have devised some customs to survive the ringing in of the new year by amateur soldiers and their very real weapons.
As other families watch the ball descend in Time Square, my children are “assuming the position” off the furniture and onto the floor. To be below the windows. Just in case.
We try not to go out on New Year’s Eve. It can take a while for our neighbors to exhaust their interest and ammunition and we don’t want to be driving back into the neighborhood before they do.
For the same reason we rarely invite anyone over on New Year’s Eve. An invitation must carry the caveat of either a planned early departure, say before 11:45pm, or a commitment to stick around till 1am. We have entertained a few friends over the years, no one more than once.
I have a very serious attitude toward guns. I wouldn’t say I have a respect for guns, more like an extreme fear. I was very intentional and scary when it came to teaching my children about them. Always assume they are loaded. Never point one at anything you don’t intend to kill. If your friend, or cousin, should pull out a gun at their home run immediately to the nearest adult.
Just about a year ago I actually handled a gun. At a firing range. Shot it and everything.
You would think with my unhealthy fear I would have been a model of safety.
Not so much.
The trigger wasn’t working and so I turned the gun to look at it and when I did I pulled the trigger and it went off, cutting across the shooting range, rather than toward the targets.
And I was sober.
Consequently, I don’t trust my “celebrating” neighbors one bit. Not even a little.
So we observe a quiet New Year’s Eve at home.
On this, our twenty-first, New Year’s Eve in our home, I was reading on the loveseat. Larry was sleeping on the couch. I had just pulled out my phone to text “Happy New Year” to my folks and kids, when…
Bang, Bang, Bang!
The dog barked and rushed to the window. Larry startled awake and said, “Someone’s knocking at the door!”
“No dear,” I calmly replied. “It’s just midnight. Happy New Year.”