True Traditions: New Year's Eve

I’m always up at midnight on January 1, but it’s not usually a night I choose to go out. I’ve done New Year’s Eve parties with my immediate family at home my whole life, but the only one that really sticks out to me was the turning of 1995 to 1996; my four-year-old self couldn’t stop crying at the thought of never seeing 1995 again. I felt so bad that its turn was over and done.

These days, the turn of the year has been a significant transition time for me in a different way. Like anyone, I set goals, resolutions, and unattainable levels of perfection for the upcoming year, but it’s more about the moment for me. That magical midnight o’clock when everything changes in a split second but nothing really happens.

I’ve carried on my family tradition of making pizza dip for my solo New Year’s Eve parties (layer cream cheese with pizza spices, sauce, and mozzarella in the oven for fifteen minutes if you’d like to taste perfection), but I’ve also set a new one. Music is at the top of the list of things I care most passionately for, so I like to set the mood and designate a song to be the first thing I listen to at midnight on January first.

I put maybe too much thought into the first thing my ears hear after the last day of the twelfth month, but after doing it for a few years, it’s really started to set the mood for my upcoming year. It’s a song I can listen to when I’m feeling content or powerful, discouraged or uninspired, or even torturously upset. It gives me a moment’s pause to remember where I was two or five or twelve months ago and what was significant to me then, and what is significant to me now.

2013’s Song of the Year was Mumford and Son’s Winter Winds. 2014’s was Keane’s Atlantic. 2015’s was American Hi-Fi’s Portland. In November, I began the bracket process for my 2016 selection, but I build it up so much these days that I overwhelm myself at the thought of narrowing my list of umpteen tunes. American Hi-Fi is still my all-time fave band of boys, but Rooney and Jim Croce have both played big parts in my life this year. Even little miss pop princess Ariana Grande (I'll never forget seeing her live in Chicago in October...all I'm going to say is Honeymoon Avenue), surprising as that may be. But then, Shakey Graves was the best show I've seen this year, so maybe he deserves the title.

But things always feel different day of. It's been a long one, and I'm feeling pretty moody and with no plans besides sitting by the fire sipping sparkling apple cider, we'll see what comes through my headphones after twelve. What sounds are you hearing tonight?

Happy New Year, and thank you a million times, as always, for doing life with me.