Making Merry

There's a sort of bittersweet mystery surrounding New Year's Eve with the old year ending and another beginning. I've always felt a little sad about saying good-bye to the past year. Remember, I've already admitted having a problem with the whole concept of letting-go. It just seems so final. So mortal. The images of Father Time and the Baby New Year don't help either. They make me associate the passage of time with the loss of my youth, of which I need no more reminders.

I think the whole celebratory aspect of New Year's Eve is to encourage us to go boldly into the future. Most of us need a little push from behind to take that first step into the unknown. Hence, we gather with family and friends; we eat, we drink, we make merry and before we realize it we're smack-dab into a new year.

When I was a kid, my family traveled home to Pittsburgh to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. It was a hectic visit with lots of people coming and going from my grandparent's home. On New Year's Eve, Mom and Dad would slip into their glitziest party clothes and head out for a night on the town leaving Rob and I in our grandparents' care. I can't tell you how much I loved this. I absolutely adored my grandparents and for an entire evening, my brother and I had them all to ourselves! We'd eat pizza, listen to Guy Lombardo (no New Year's Rockin' Eve in those days) play cards and revel in the idea that we had no bedtime. At midnight, each armed with a pot and wooden spoon, we'd scamper out onto the front porch and bang in the New Year with Grandpap and Grandma at our side. It was such a thrill.

Sadly, the evening also brought with it the realization that our visit was ending and come morning we'd be packed back into the station wagon and headed back out of state. I remember each year, praying for enough snow to fall overnight to impede our departure. Never happened.

Years later, my aunt and uncle hosted a series of annual, family New Year's Eve parties. By this time, Rick and I had our own young family and we appreciated the opportunity the parties gave us to make merry with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The photos posted here were taken at those parties.

Looking back, it seems appropriate that Uncle Ray chose New Year's Eve as the occasion for his annual get-together. Ray was a 'larger-than-life' character, clearly the head of my mother's family, Grandpap aside. He was a straight-shooter and said the things that needed to be said, but in a way that made the words easier to hear. He loved to have a good time, but I don't ever remember him being loud or obnoxious. He was the perfect person to guide us all into the New Year.

The last year of his life, my uncle abdicated his party hosting duty to my Aunt Mary and we rang in the New Year at the her home. This photo of Ray, Brittany and Greg, shot on December 31, 1985 was the last of I'd take of him.

Its hard for me to celebrate the passing of another year without thinking of those that I loved that have gone before me. I'd like to think they're all waiting for the rest of us on the other side - with silly hats and party favors - making merry.


  1. Its that your feeling now or was that always your feeling about leaving a year behind? To me, I think of the fun year ahead and how I want to go forward. Nothing to do with things not being great during the previous year but I have this new sense of adventure!

  2. Love the pictures mom. Although I miss you like crazy every single day, I am so glad you have been able to return to Pittsburgh and to your roots. Love the blog...keep it coming!

    Happy New Year! Love you, BC

  3. great photos, but even better stories.

  4. These are great stories and pictures... The blog is great!!! Do more...