Ice, ice, baby — a beautiful New Year’s memory

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blankThe New Year is here, and for many people it’s a time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future. If you’re a regular reader of my columns then you probably already know that I’m not one of those people.

I should probably clarify — I do reflect and think about the past (way to much); it’s the planning for the future that I’ve never really been into.

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions ages ago when I figured out that if I couldn’t or wouldn’t change my ways during the past year, why would I make any more effort to change starting on any given Jan. 1? I know me, and I don’t see any point in kidding myself or those around me. That’s not to say that I haven’t given up some bad habits or changed my ways, just not as a New Year’s resolution.

Christmas and New Year’s are so close together that they get lumped together into the “holiday season” and it’s too bad because I really dislike the beginning but I’m always happy to see the end. One of the things I like about New Year’s is that it’s the only holiday that’s non-religious (if you don’t count the Gregorian calendar aspect) and non-political.

Thinking back as a kid, New Year’s was always exciting because my parents liked to throw New Year’s Eve parties and they would let me help do stuff like peel the shrimp. Then they would let me stay up until midnight if I could keep my eyes open and see everyone ringing in the New Year.

As a teenager, New Year’s was just another excuse to party, since my friends and I stayed up past midnight almost every weekend anyway. I don’t remember any specific New Year’s parties that stood out, I just know we partied like there was no tomorrow.

Considering that I’ve lived through 60 New Year’s, none have really left much of an impression other than the one I’m going to tell you about now. Oh, and impression may be over-hyping it.

When I was in my mid-20s and already living with Diane, for two or three years in a row, we celebrated New Year’s Eve with an old friend of mine and his wife at their house down by Detroit. It was such a low-key get-together that we jokingly called ourselves “The Boremores” as in boring. We played board games, ate, drank, waited until midnight, then made the hour drive home.

So you’re probably wondering why this is memorable. Well, the party wasn’t but the drive home sure was. First, let me explain: I used to be one of those guys that if I said I was going to be somewhere at a certain time then you could set your watch by it because nothing was going to stop me. And if it was a social commitment, for sure don’t get in my way.

Anyway, that particular New Year’s Eve, the weathermen were predicting freezing rain and we probably should have stayed home, but damn it, I committed to a party, so we were going.

Sure enough, just after midnight, as we were leaving, the rain started and at the same time the temperature started to drop. I had the wipers and defrost going full blast to keep the rain from freezing on the windshield. Even though the salt trucks were out, the freeways were still treacherous and the drive home was what we Midwesterners call “white knuckle driving” because you’re holding onto the steering wheel so tight.

After a couple of hours crawling down the freeway, we made it home without any mishaps and collapsed into bed wondering about what a way to start the new year. Was it an omen for what lay ahead? We weren’t sure, but we were definitely a little freaked out as we finally drifted off to sleep.

That morning, New Year’s Day, we woke to an almost unbearable brightness coming in through the bedroom window (and it wasn’t from being hung-over). Our bedroom was on the second floor and looked out over a park that was across the street. I got up and looked out the window. It was one of the most amazing, dare I say even magical sights, I have ever seen. The storm from the night before had passed and the sun was shining down on all the trees covered in a layer of crystal clear, shimmering ice.

It was one of the most beautiful and memorable things I’ve ever seen and reminds me that sometimes you just have to sit back and let nature say HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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