champagne glasses

Woohoo! It’s New Year’s Eve! Time to put on your sparkliest attire and party wildly until the sun comes up!
— said no middle-aged parent ever.

Every year of nearly all of my adulthood, the thought of making plans and staying out of my house, in actual clothes, until at least midnight, with my children, causes me real and imagined pains. For the most part, once 9 p.m. rolls around, I am fairly useless. Sometimes, I could pass for catatonic. I don’t like to speak or think and I especially hate being spoken to. I tell my kids that once the clock strikes 8 p.m., I am off duty. Unless there is a crisis that involves blood or vomit, they should try and forge on without me because I will likely not offer any support of value. They may get responses such as, “oh really?” and, “I hear you” when, in actuality, I definitely did not hear them or compute anything other than the fact they are present and violating the terms of my employment, as I clearly stated I was off-duty.

And yet, once a year, I have to pretend that I not only want to be out of my house but that I am excited about the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I always spend New Year’s Eve with my favorite people. And I always very much enjoy their company. So much so, that I make sure to try and nap BEFORE heading over, rather than on their couch at 10:45 (where you will regularly find my husband). One year when the kids were little, we even planned a 9 p.m. nap time for my littlest, figuring she and daddy could catch a few z’s before the ball dropped. Instead, daddy snored her out of the room by 9:06 and I spent the next three hours feeding cheese to a cranky pre-schooler, hoping that would soothe her — or at least keep her mouth busy enough that she couldn’t complain.

I look back to my youth and remember how exciting New Year’s Eve was to my young and non-sleep-deprived self. It always seemed like the biggest, most important night of the year. There was always a party (though I was probably not invited since I was like nine years old). There was always so much hype. Even in my early 20s, I remember thinking this holiday was a fun thing. My first job out of college was at a TV station and as the low man on the totem pole, I had to work that New Year’s Eve and I was so upset.

However, I have not one single recollection of any particular New Year’s Eve — and I was a full grown adult when it was time to party like it was 1999. I mostly just remember worrying that year the whole world was going to come to an end because of the Y2K drama. Looking back, I have to wonder if maybe I wasn’t just upset about the working thing because I was starting to realize that I mentally check out at 8 p.m. and working until midnight is almost a joke. Plus, I had to have real clothes on, and not pajamas and slippers. Although, sometimes on the overnights, there were dress code violations. Who can really tell the difference between pajama pants and sweatpants, anyway? I mean, I only rarely wore the fleece ones with the polar bears.

Now that I have a few years behind me, I have to wonder who actually enjoys New Year’s Eve. I feel like anyone I know is either asleep before midnight or wishes they were. Perhaps this is a product of my age and station in life, but New Year’s Eve is clearly the worst holiday going. And it’s a cruel one, at that, because a post-midnight bedtime has never once kept a child asleep past their normal wake-up time. Back in the day, those little psychos were always awake with the sun the next day, thereby ruining not just one, but two whole days. Because an over-tired child is the worst kind of child. It’s like having mini-Godzilla with a toothache, except angrier.

I know that I don’t have little kids anymore, but I feel like the overtired, cranky kid thing just morphed into the overtired, cranky mom thing. Sure, now they’ll sleep in after a late night, but all those years of waking at sunrise to find a child inches from my face, channeling Satan to assist in waking me, has made it impossible for me to sleep past 8 a.m. Factor in the dogs (who seem to be on a 2 a.m. pee schedule) and the cats (who may let me sleep or may scream like they’re being murdered — you never know which) and you get exactly not enough sleep. And that’s on a regular day. Forget trying to be human after midnight. Thank God for coffee.

So this New Year’s Eve, whether you like it or not, raise your glass (did I mention I hate champagne?) and toast the coming of another year, surrounded by the ones you love. And if they really love you back, they won’t even care about your fleece polar bear pajama pants.

It turns out, pajama pants are one of the easiest items to make yourself. If you’re running low on polar bear fabric, you can use any other comfy material you may have (because doesn’t everyone have swaths of fabric lying around?) and follow this pattern from the seasonedhomemaker.com. Or you could stay home in your bed. I’m not judging (but I will be super jealous and maybe hate you a little). Happy New Year!

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Laurie Nigro
Laurie is the mother of two biological children and one husband and the caretaker of a menagerie of animals. Laurie is passionate about frugal, natural living. She was recognized by the L.I. Press Club with a “best humor column” award in 2016 and 2017. Email Laurie