When I was a child, growing up in the old country, December 31st was the happiest and most anticipated day of the year. I still remember the smell of our tangerines, which were an absolutely necessary attribute of any New Year’s celebration–more so than champagne.
My mom slaved in the kitchen for days to put the biggest and most scrumptious meal on the table. Then, on the big day, we would put our best china and gather around the table for dinner. For children, it was the biggest thrill, because only on New Year’s Eve were we allowed to stay up all night, eat sweets, and watch TV.
As children, we were the only ones getting presents. It was mostly fruit, candy, books, and an occasional toy, but we were waiting for those presents all year and treasured them immensely. To us, they were precious. They represented something special–New Year’s.
No one wrapped the presents in those days simply because we didn’t have any wrapping paper. I remember my mom would get creative and use cellophane and some ribbons to make the presents more festive. I remember how she would hide these funny-looking presents from us, and how happy she was when she’d manage to transfer them in the middle of the night under the tree, and then looked surprised when we find them in the morning.
But most of all, I remember the feeling of absolute and total happiness. Oh, what a joy it was, that magical New Year’s night! The exhilaration, anticipation, celebration!
I remember everything so vividly like it was yesterday, and my heart breaks a little each and every time…
In my family we keep the tradition and celebrate New Year’s in a big way. Now I am slaving in the kitchen, using my mother’s recipes to put on a celebratory dinner. And every year, there are tangerines, champagne, and presents. Only now they are prettily wrapped and adorned with festive ribbons and bows.
In two days, we will sit around our table, and raise our glasses to toast 2021, wishing for health and happiness, peace and prosperity.
May this coming year be kind to everybody. Stay safe and healthy, love each other, care for your loved-ones, and always keep positive attitude.
Happy New Year!