Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out With The Old, 2006

The last week of the year 2006 has come…and pretty much gone. Again this week- chores. The coach must now have a year end filing system in prep for tax time and old files must make way for the files of the new year. To break up the work, we used some time to explore the area a little bit, “moseyed” on over to Cocoa Beach to see the beach and had a nice lunch on the fisherman’s pier. Did the once around at the always fun Ron Jon’s Surf Shop,dudes, then drove up the coast on A1A which is the more scenic and tourist trap lined route along the coast, winding up at Kennedy Space Center. We didn’t take the tour- a bit too late in the day when we got there and besides we really just wanted to scout the area for a decent vantage point in case we are in the vicinity next time the space shuttle either goes up or down. I’m not really sure when this happened, but it seems I have acquired a strong desire to see that bird fly before its era is over. I never had that desire before; watching on TV was always fine. Perhaps it is some parallel between my getting older and the shuttle program getting older and things around me in general getting older. And some of them signing off before I am ready for that to happen. Some form of nostalgia perhaps. Thinking that “older” things might just be better than newer, younger things, even if the distance left to run in the race is shorter than the distance already run. Don’t know, but it is what it is. And it’s good to consider.

Tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve. I like that night a lot better than I do Christmas or Thanksgiving or Halloween or Easter or St. Patrick’s Day (my birthday-mark your calendar) or just about any other holiday. And I think that is because it is for me a more personal time of reflection and thinking things through. Considering what course corrections need to be charted in the coming days, taking a pause, a deep breath, and gathering the muster to go forward and improve or build on what has been and will now become the past. Out with the old and in with the new- isn't that what they say?

The meaning of that expression has changed for me over the years. I used to think that meant throwing away old things in favor of the new. Start over from scratch. Get a new plan. Not so.

Looking back I realize that as a kid I celebrated each and every New Year’s Eve by going “out with the old.” It was one of the few times of the year that my parents ever took a night out for themselves and gathered with friends to party a little and celebrate the coming year. My sister and I always spent the night at my grandparents house in the city. I looked forward to that every year and to this day remember it as always being one of the highlights of the year. We had a tradition. In the early evening we would set up the card table, pull a box out of the old wooden chest in the living room, and work on a puzzle. I was a good “puzzle-putter-togetherer” but my grandmother was a great one! I cherished the time sitting with her, talking about whatever, and just enjoying my time at her house. Grandpa read the paper in his recliner by the floor lamp and watched a little black and white TV or listened to news on his radio which was bigger than his chair was in those days while the puzzle pieces got fitted. Long about 8 o’ clock Grandma sent us upstairs for a nap, then later woke us up in time to watch the ball come down at Times Square. Afterwards, she prepared her oyster stew while we talked to our parents on the phone and everyone wished everyone else a Happy New Year. Then off to the candle lit table for a bowl of oyster stew. To make it a “kid’s dish” she floated little crackers on the top and we each had a knife and a small bowl of butter in front of us. We took a dab of butter on the knife, placed it on the crackers like sails on a sail boat, set it adrift in the stew, and blew across the bowl to cool it, sending the little boats sailing across the mighty ocean of the soup bowl. Funny what sticks in your mind and makes unbreakable bonds between people, but this is one of those things for me. Simpler times are often better times I suppose or at least perceived to be that way in our memories.

New years later, my mother would take up the tradition of the oyster stew, and now, many years later, I will have oyster stew tomorrow night, just like I do every New Year’s Eve. I will get out my crackers and hoist up the butter sails and blow on the boats to cool the stew. I will most likely smile through a few tears remembering all the magical times I went “out with the old,” and the happy sounds in that house in the city where children were invited guests of honor and together we all sailed into the new year. Let the ball come down. My ships are ready to sail.

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