New Year’s Eve with My Dad

I first published this post last New Year’s Eve.  I’ve added an update at the end.

Although I rarely go to New Year’s Eve parties any more (cue: one big whine and then a hefty sigh of relief), when I was growing up NYE always meant parties.  My parents went to one or hosted one every year.

In the sixties, my parents held their parties in the basement of our house.  Mom draped a paper tablecloth over the ping-pong table and Dad stocked the bar he’d built in the corner.  He set up table games and placed ashtrays on every available surface.  When he dragged out the box with the hats and noisemakers and boas I scrambled to help.  My favorite was the noisemaker blow out.  When I blew on the pipe end, the little roll of paper unfurled with a sputtery raspberry.  The tin drums which spun on wind-up stems sounded a raucous blare, so Dad would grab one of those and twirl it.

In the kitchen, my mother made canapés and Chex Mix.  She refrigerated 7-Up and washed the “frosted” highball glasses. Gold leaves, which I was sure were 24k gold leaf, decorated the crystal.

These plastic clips identified which drink to refill: rum and Coke, Seven and Seven, etc.

These plastic clips identified which drink to refill: Rum-and-Coke, Seven-and-seven, Gin-and-tonic, Scotch-and-soda.

I’m not saying I was a snoop, but I could hear everything.  I could even see a flash of the neighbor’s shiny bald head or Dad’s hand dealing cards through the register in the floor right near my bed.  I sat on the floor for hours with my legs cramped up underneath me.

While I didn’t hear anything of particular interest, the social interactions between the adults—their jokes, the vibrations in their voices, the sudden bursts of laughter– kept me straining my hearing.  Dad’s loud, excited voice rose above the others.  Everyone else faded into a background buzz in comparison with him.  Dad was the life of the party.

For his 80th birthday I made him a video of his life, and when Dad saw himself on video, he said, “I didn’t know I was so obnoxious!”  I had to laugh to myself at that because it isn’t as if nobody has told him that over the years.  Mostly, though, his enthusiasm for having a good time has been infectious.  At eighty-four he still likes to stir things up.  I suspect he’ll be wearing a hat and sounding his noisemaker at midnight tonight in Michigan.

Dad is ready for the party!

Dad is ready for the party!


This year Dad is, of course, 85. I will be seeing my parents the day after tomorrow, so I can ring in the New Year with them just a tad late.


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

30 responses to “New Year’s Eve with My Dad

  1. Lovely story, Luanne. Like you, I’ll be having a quiet evening and possibly staying up until midnight. All the best in 2014. I look forward to more of your posts!

  2. Happy New Year, Luanne!

  3. Please join me for SERENDIPITOUS LIVING in the New Year

  4. Thanks for the great memory, Luanne. I too used to listen to my parents entertaining their friends. I loved to peek around the corner to see what the ladies were wearing. Enjoy the time with your parents, it’s so important to keep building those memories. Happy New Year!

    • Luanne

      Oh, that’s another good one–what the ladies were wearing! They will be here for two months, so we should have some fun times. Happy New Year, Jill! xo

      • Oh, I’m happy to hear that…two months, that’s wonderful, Luanne! I thought of you yesterday. I was having my annual physical and when I put on the dreaded gown, my neck was covered in SPLOTCHES!!! Happy New Year!

  5. Love that photo, what a cut-up!

    • Luanne

      You GOT it! A great word for him hahaha. And my mom and their friend look so elegant hiding behind their masks and there he is, ever the goof!

  6. Ian

    Nice memories!
    Happy New Year, Luanne!

  7. I read your reply on another blog and immediately thought… I want to know this one!!! lol.
    I was not disappointed! Can’t wait to read more!
    Happy New Year

    • Luanne

      Coastalmom, what a nice thing to say! Haha, now I am wondering which blog ;). Happy New Year to you, too, di. Checking out your blog . . . .

  8. Oh my gosh, Luanne – you described my childhood! Basement parties, ashtrays on every surface, bar, highball glasses, gold leafs, covered ping-pong table, adult laughter, cards, The only thing missing was the kids upstairs listening to the top 100 countdown on CKLW! Oh yeah, and how we kids got to clean up the mess the next day! Happy New Year!

    • Luanne

      Shel, I had to laugh at this. I’m sure we would have been friends if we lived in the same neighborhood, but we were living parallel lives haha. My brother is 8 years younger than I am, so I was the only one snooping (until he got older). And he didn’t have to help clean up either! Happy New Year to you!

  9. Glad to read this tribute to a boisterous and loving man, your father of 85 years. He would probably be the life of the party and amuse my mother with his stories. I think that it would be nice to know him, as a neighbor, friend or being a special daughter that you are to him!

    • Luanne

      He just arrived the day before yesterday, too. My parents are going to be staying by me for two months. He’s already started making friends here . . . .

      • You have talked about your mother and grandmother and their gifts of teaching you things. I am so glad to have read more about your father. I think it would be fun to have him around! I liked reading those special ways our parents prepared for parties, in the “old days!” We would hear my parents getting ready, the next morning, while they slept, we should never have done this, but during their manhattens’ faze, we would eat the alcohol imbued cherries! yummy! Also, finding nuts in the nutbowls, would nibble on those, too! This party seemed like one my parents would have enjoyed! Smiles, Robin

        • oops! Didn’t mean to leave a run-on sentence. Meant to finish the line about hearing them get ready… by adding that we would like to see the way my Mom would set out the special dishes and glasses. My Dad would set up a ‘bar’ area, etc. Then, the next morning, the leftover drinks and food… Thanks for the memories, Luanne! Robin

  10. Nice. my parents divorced, when I was nine, so many of my New Year’s eve memories where coming home late from a date, with my mom asleep. Mostly good New Years. My father was from an Italian heritage and if they were gambling (which they may well have been) it would not have been at home. thanks. ! nice post all my best, Lynn Bowne Weed

  11. Nice. my parents divorced, when I was nine, so many of my New Year’s eve memories where coming home late from a date, with my mom asleep. Mostly good New Years. My father was from an Italian heritage and if they were gambling (which they may well have been) it would not have been at home. thanks. ! nice post all my best, Lynn Bowne Weed

    • Luanne

      I didn’t realize that the Italians are big gamblers. I know that it tends to run in certain groups of people, but I didn’t know that it was an Italian pasttime. Nice to meet you, Lynn!

  12. didn’t mean to post twice

  13. Well, some tend to be. But from my understanding, rarely “in the house”.

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