It dawned on me earlier that 30 plus years ago on this very day, I was spending the night with my grandparents— who were affectionately known as MaMa and PaPa.
My parents thought they deserved some time to themselves on New Year’s Eve. Mom would drive us to our grandparents home a hop, skip and jump down the country road to Campbell’s Creek— while Mom and Dad enjoyed a night on the town (or in).
Most likely at that very moment—three plus decades ago— I would have been sitting on the floor of their small, cozy, wood paneled den with my brother Austin in tow.
The pair of us without a doubt would have been diligently cutting a huge pile of colored construction paper into teensy, tiny little pieces, and placing said pieces in a mixing bowl to save for the night’s big event at the turn of midnight.
Every year MaMa would hand us each a pair of scissors and a stack of coarse, faded construction paper.
And, every year without skipping a beat, we would sit tentatively cutting our paper like elves in a workshop-— completely entertained by the fruits of our labor and whatever television program was on (like Magnum P.I. or Murder She Wrote) prior to Dick Clark’s annual fling where he would take over America’s living rooms to ring in the new year.
Austin and I would conspire to stockpile the tiny pieces of paper with dreams of five seconds of total joy and mayhem— when our hard work would transform into a beautiful confetti explosion.
Covering the carpeted floor, floral print loveseat where MaMa (decked out in her silk moo moo) would sit chewing on her pencil while working on a crossword puzzle in Soap Digest while PaPa (in his cotton, button down pajamas) sat perched in his recliner smoking Salem menthol cigarettes and nibbling on an unending supply of Hershey kisses on the side table beside his chair.
Confetti would trickle down into every crevice of the room. But every year my grandmother (against her better judgment) would not think twice about the after affects of what two hours of cutting paper into itty bitty pieces would do to the tidy room.
I remember dreaming about what it would be like in Times Square watching the ball drop. In my mind, I would be front and center of all the action. Meekly watching the performances and anticipating the exhilaration of watching that infamous ball drop in that grand city.
I imagined that Prince was performing and would come down from the stage in a purple haze of smoke and ask me to join him and The Revolution as a backup singer— because Wendy was no longer with the band— and of course I would.
Dick Clark would then tell America I was a phenom and would be the next Madonna.
There really would have been no greater honor for me at that time.
To be sure, my brother’s imagination would take him to another setting… likely, he was transformed into He-Man busy saving the good people of NYC from the evil doings of his arch nemesis Skeletor.
Ahhhh. Those WERE the days.
Not a care in the world.
Watching my son tonight brought forth these memories— the delight in his eyes of the forthcoming new year, neighborhood festivity all around us. Ending the evening sitting on the floor of our living room, confetti in hand (purchased, not hand cut) eagerly awaiting the ball drop in glimmering Times Square (now hosted by Dick Clark’s successor Ryan Seacrest).
Although the times have certainly changed over my forty-three years, one thing is for sure: the magic of a new year, new adventures and possibilities will never be dull in a child’s eyes.
Happy New Year!
Alison Paul Klakowicz
Author, Writer, Artisan, Podcaster