Is there any other occasion as universally associated with renewal as New Year’s Eve? I was brought up to think that how you start the year can be symbolic of how the year will turn out. Long ago, I (gladly) abandoned chasing Champagne-topped parties in lieu of cozy socks, tea, and a reasonable bedtime. This shift happened around the time that sleep became a sparse commodity (read: when I still had a newborn). However, when my daughter Miya turned one, I thought I’d give party-throwing another college try. So I put her to bed at 8pm and invited friends over to celebrate with us at 9pm. A rented photo booth, hors d’ouevres, many bottles of Champagne, and midnight sparklers made it a successful, sassy New Year’s Eve that I haven’t dared to replicate again.
When planning this evening, I knew I couldn’t host the same riotous affairs I had grown accustomed to. One: I had a sleeping baby upstairs. Two: I simply couldn’t cook that much food. Our New Year’s Eve table was usually laden with traditional Philippine celebratory foods like roast pig, pancit canton (stir-fried rice noodles), and lumpiang shanghai (fried egg rolls stuffed with savory pork), but the prospect of preparing all of those dishes felt overwhelming. Instead, I opted for setting up a seafood bar with pre-shucked oysters, caviar, and shrimp cocktail, which I preordered from our local fishmonger. It felt appropriately indulgent, and wisely stress-free.
As the clock struck midnight and we all gathered in the backyard to pierce the darkness with our dazzling sparklers, I was reminded why New Year’s Eve gatherings are so important. As the calendar flips to a fresh new page, hopes are revived, dreams are ignited, and optimism abounds. What better way to usher in the change than surrounded by the laughter and ensconced in the embraces of friends.
Photo by Rachel Bowman – Video shot by Roxana Azar and edited by Joe Kramer