Here we are on the precipice of another year, getting deeper into what we once called “the New Century”.
New Years Eve often has me looking backward rather than to what the new year may hold in store. I rarely limit this act of nostalgia to the immediate year about to expire and frequently look back twenty or more years in the past.
The first New Years Eve I can recall was December 31, 1956. I was six years old and allowed to stay up past midnight and even to welcome the new year outside our apartment building at 1261 Leland Avenue in the Beautiful Bronx.
Like most of my friends, I had purchased the traditional tin noise makers to scare off the demons of 1956. Consisting of a horn that sounded more like a duck call and a contraption resembling a frying pan equipped with a clanger, a racket was sure to be made by all.
Perhaps the most nostalgic thing about that night wasn’t just the fact that a kid of six years old could be out on the street at midnight but that all the doors to the apartments in my building were opened. They weren’t just unlocked, they were fully opened allowing the tenants to apartment hop unrestrained by doors or locks. Running up to the top floor to see Mrs. Savino and then one floor down to see the Destefanos and onto my second floor to see the Rooneys and Davidsons just seemed like a normal day in the life of Jimmy Newell, age six.
The only thing different about this night and the Fourth of July was that all the residents of 1261 were partying indoors rather than in front of the building. I don’t remember if it was cold, I guess it was seasonable as it was not memorable. Surely, there was no snow and the lot next door had yet to have a single Christmas tree placed there to be set afire as that was what was done to discarded Christmas trees.
There’s much that I miss about that time. The people especially. You try to keep their memory and joy for life alive but you can’t go through New Years Eve without missing those loved ones who are no longer with you to kiss and hug.
So tonight, make sure you are with someone who you can kiss and certainly give them a big hug and make this night as memorable and sacred as December 31, 1956 is for me.
Of course, I have had many memorable and sacred New Years eves and tonight will be no exception. Even if you are not present with all your loved ones, you can be sure that they are thinking of you just as you are of them. Whether in the Bronx or on Long Island or in Florida, I will be with all my loved ones tonight and they will be wishing me a Happy New Year.
I wish the same to you and your family and the people who are your loved ones.
Happy New Year