December 31, 2007

Party like it's 1969

It was such a glamorous holiday in those days. I sat on the staircase in my pajamas, clutching my Raggedy Ann doll and peeking around the wall to watch the women as they came in. They shook snow from their hair and shed dark winter coats to reveal long dresses that shimmered in the lights from the Christmas tree. The men carried musical instruments in dark cases, stashing them over near the piano. We kids, hiding shyly upstairs with our own special New Year's Eve treats, listened to the polite grown-up talk that moved from living room to the kitchen. We could hear the clink of ice as they made drinks and the rustle of bags as my mother refilled bowls of chips or pretzels.

New Year's Eve parties began late and ended in the early hours of the morning, and we kids were supposed to be sleeping, but of course, we weren't. Some of the grown-ups, coming upstairs to use the upstairs bathroom, stopped to say hello. Picnic Mother, whom we knew very well from camping trips and picnics, looked the most glamorous. Thin and blonde, she wore a sophisticated black dress that looked glittery in the bedroom light. Hyper Generous Woman stopped in, full of chatter, and she asked us if we needed anything, since we were too shy to go down amongst the grown-ups.

Of course, as soon as Trumpet Player, who was married to Picnic Mother, arrived, the music began. My father and his friends jammed most of the evening, taking a break at midnight to join in the countdown and kiss their wives. My mother served a full meal after midnight, the traditional meal of ham, baked beans, potatoes, salad, and bread. We kids had eaten earlier, but we had a special treat saved for midnight: a frozen cream pie, which we all thought was the height of luxury. I fell asleep, eventually, listening to jazz and swing, all the old standards, coming through the floorboards and up the staircase, soothing and familiar music to begin the new year with


Anonymous said...


Happy New Year!! I was born in 1969! so it was a great year for me too-Iam in the UK temporarily although originally from NZ-I have been reading your blog for yrs!

You have the greatest thing ever a close and loving family something I have created with my partner and our children after having a rather rough childhood. I love reading about your journey through life your words are like poetry.



jo(e) said...

Thanks Sian! It's nice to hear from a long-time lurker. Happy New Year!

Cathy said...

I was 13 in 1969 - the year man landed on the moon.

I bet the music was wonderful!

Yankee T said...

New Year's Eve 1969 I had just dropped out of college. Man, I'm old.

Happy New Year, jo(e). Thanks for all the great reading, viewing, and internet companionship this year.

kathy a. said...

i was 12 in 1969, and remember the moon mission, too. there is a photo on my wall of me and my sisters, wearing easter dresses made by my best friend's mom in 1969 -- we were at their house when we watched the news.

lovely memories, jo(e). best to you and your sprawling family in the new year!

Anonymous said...

In 1969 I was 21, (but that was not a significant number then, the critical age was 18.) Three of my grandparents and my mother were dead, and Dad was drinking himself into oblivion. The college I was in had failed, the president was hauled out by two state cops for extortion and fraud before my eyes, and I was 1-A.

But, in two years I was married, not called up, and now have two great kids and a grandchild! Yes there are something’s I yearn from the old days, but 1969 is not one of them!

Happy New Year from an old lurker!

Cranky Old Man

Sandie said...

I was 4, I remember the pj and sitting on the stairs watching the adults. But at my house there was only music from the record player. Your memory is really beautiful... you have so many generations of talent surrounding you.

codfish said...

I wasn't born yet in 1969, but your post title is my favourite Joni Mitchell song!! :-) Happy New Year, jo(e)!

Sharon said...

On New Year's eve, 1969, I was 27 days old :) Beautiful memory, beautifully expressed.