My best, bittersweet New Year’s Eve memory is that of my parents dancing around the living room to Guy Lombardo “Auld Lang-Syne” or Glenn Miller’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve.” By the time they were raising me and my younger sister, the last of their eight children, they didn’t often find much time to dance. They both were working two jobs. The economy in the 1970s was much like it is today. Mom’s health issues were just beginning to manifest themselves, and Dad was approaching 60. And yet dancing on New Year’s Eve seemed the most natural state for them. After all, that is how they met.
It was 1940, and as the stories go, my dad’s brother Dick, who had already met my mom a few weeks earlier, took my dad to Mrs. Jones’ Dance Studio where my mom was one of the ballroom dance instructors. In my imagination, the story of their meeting is like something out of a movie: Glenn Miller’s music crackling on a phonograph, a mirrored dance-hall ball spinning overhead, and suddenly a tall smiling man in a white suit walked in the door.
And then, as my mom would report time and again, feisty little woman that she was, who never failed to get something she wanted when she set out to get it, she elbowed the other dance instructors to the side and said, “out of my way girls, this one’s mine.” Mom would always add that she fell for our Dad out of all her dance students because of his white suit and because he was the best dipper.
2012 was not a great year for us and our friends. We lost Ruth to colon cancer in February. Our friend Ana battled breast cancer and survived, but not without a hard fight. We and 30 other families in our coop lived without gas in our kitchens from March to December. Bob and his family struggled with his mother’s home and health. Several friends have endured rough job transitions and moves. In September, I learned the hard way I have diverticulosis. And the October, November and December of Hurricane Sandy, the presidential campaign and the Sandy Hook shootings left us disconcerted and worn out.
So, tonight, a quiet night at home with my tall smiling man, a DVD, maybe some hot chocolate and Ella Fitzgerald at midnight will be all we have, but it will be a fitting end to a rough year, with some hope for a better 2013.
A good new year to you all.