by Andrea Puckett

The New Year brings no baggage with it. It is a time where people reflect back to the woes of the previous and celebrate being alive. However, what makes up a good new year is different for everyone.

I always get excited at the prospect of living another year and having the chance to be around friends and family when we can share a moment of happiness without thinking about our own tragedies or the ugliness of the world. As I have matured, what I consider a good New Years Eve has also changed. When I was in middle school, I remember ringing in the new year with my friends drinking grape juice out of wine glasses and pretending that we were at a posh party. At that time, this was a great party because we got to stay up late and we got to stay over at each other’s houses and spy on the teen to twenty something crowd that would have parties across the street. I remember peeking into their windows right after the ball dropped and seeing all of the people and the partying. It was like I was in an alternate world looking into a world that I did not yet belong.

My next experience was watching the ball drop with my mother and watching MTV and Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. We would sit on the couch and ring in the New Year together. I would stay up and listen to all of the rock stars on television and my mother would go to sleep right after the ball dropped. However, I didn’t mind being at home watching the ball drop on TV because I was safe and with people that I loved.

In college, I went to nightclubs to ring in the New Year with my boyfriend. We would dance and enjoy the night. At midnight, I was no longer looking into the party but now had joined the party. I got my new years kiss and I got to stay at the party until dawn. We had a great time and just enjoyed being young and happy.

Right after college, we attended house parties and indulged way too much in the alcohol. I remember being a new 21 year old and finding drinking fun. I learned where my limitations on alcohol were when I had one too many Jell-O shooters and puked all over my boyfriend. I think we all have a few New Year’s ever nights that we would either like to have remembered or would want others to forget. My friends still bring up the night I had too many Jell-O shots every time we are around anything that involves Jell-O.

A few years later, I attended a male friend’s party where he had chocolate pudding girl wrestling in his basement and after midnight we were all kicked out. It was a rather disappointing party. For about two years after this party, all of my New Years really didn’t consist of parties but of just hanging out with friends and again watching the ball drop at midnight.

This year, I went to a neighbor’s New Year’s Ever wedding. I drove to Richmond, VA with my boyfriend to attend a friend’s wedding and to attend her reception that would go through the new year. The wedding was very intimate and special because we knew both parties and knew how much in love they were. At the reception, we really didn’t know anyone but we mingled and after cocktail hour we started to meet people. The reception was very lovely filled with flowers and balloons. We had a great dinner and the midnight hour approached. The night was filled with dancing and music. I got to count down the new year with my boyfriend and got that new years kiss.

At midnight, everyone toasted with champagne and the heart balloons in the middle of the dance floor came down over our heads. It was a magical scene. Also, at midnight the music changed from standard favorites of the 1970 and 80s to the new music of today. It was like being at the ball with Prince Charming and when the clock struck midnight our world seemed to take on a different direction. For some reason, every good wedding that I have been to has had the same thing involved with the music. There comes a point in the evening where the wedding reception’s music goes from family favorites to young modern dance music.

When Fifty Cent and Snoop Dogg came on, all of the people under thirty, which was a majority of the wedding party and a third of the guest, all got on the dance floor and had fun. At one we all, went back upstairs to our rooms in the hotel. The music played on in our heads for the rest of the night and we thought to ourselves that we had just celebrated a good night. At around 3 AM several of my friends used the text feature on their cell phones to text Happy New Year to me. Text messaging became the new hot thing to use to wish happy New Year to friends.

My family went to church to ring in the new year. The church for my family is more than a building but extends to a social network. They spend time there and feel needed by others and the community. It is a place where they feel that they can take their small children and can be around their friends without having to worry about drunk people on new years bothering them or educating their children in things that they feel aren’t appropriate to learn under the age of 18. They watched the ball drop and then the party departed to their respective homes so that they could go to sleep to go to church the next morning since New Years Day was on Sunday.

On New Years Day, we came back home from my neighbors wedding and spent the day enjoying each other. Thus far in 2006, I have danced the night away with good friends and spent the day remembering that the most important thing in life is love. The new year is a blank slate but I am beginning to write upon it good times that shall cloak me with good stories and warm fuzzy memories for years to come.