Auld Lang Syne by
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I first published this story three years ago, on the prompt New Beginnings. Since it only got 3 comments, I’m thinking most of you never saw it. So here it is again. I’m feeling a little more optimistic now about 2020 than I was three years ago about 2017, but our country is not out of danger yet!

New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times. Saying good-bye to the old year, however good or bad it may have been, and ushering in the new one, with all of its promise. Making resolutions, and possibly even keeping them. Drinking champagne and watching the ball go down in Times Square. (For years I wanted to go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve instead of just watching it on TV, but I never made it, and now that my blood has thinned from living in California for so long, it looks much too cold to be appealing.)

One of my favorite things about New Year’s Eve now is the fireworks. I don’t remember fireworks being associated with New Year’s Eve when I was a kid. Back then it seems as if they were reserved for the Fourth of July. But now it has definitely become part of the New Year’s Eve tradition. In Sacramento, they have two fireworks shows, a shorter one at 9 pm for families with children, and a longer one at midnight. Truth be told, we generally go to the 9:00 show, because the parking and the drive home are easier then, and that way we can still watch the ball go down at midnight.

The best fireworks I ever saw were on a New Year’s Eve about a dozen years ago in Ixtapa, Mexico. We had gone there for a weeklong vacation with my sister’s family and two other families. Everything was amazing that week. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, and the resort we were staying at had three pools, including one with a swim-up bar. It was right on the beach so we could swim in the ocean as well.

On New Year’s Eve, there was a particularly elaborate dinner and a show, which was great fun. There were musicians, and magicians, and an audience participation bit where my husband was called up on stage to perform. After the show ended, around 11:00, we wandered over to the beach. I think we must have been told there would be fireworks at midnight, so we were just hanging out on the beach enjoying the night air – some of us may have been a little tipsy – and waiting for them to start. Suddenly, with a boom, there they were, exploding directly over our heads! We stretched out on our backs in the sand and looked up above us as magnificent explosions of color appeared one after another. It was the most beautiful and mesmerizing thing I have ever seen.

Undoubtedly it was unsafe, and would never be allowed in the US. Some flaming bit could have fallen down right on top of us. But the danger made it even more exciting and memorable. The arriving year was off to an amazing start, and I knew it would be a good year!

I only wish I could feel as optimistic about the year that is about to come. Even those Ixtapa fireworks would probably not be enough to make me feel good about 2017. This will be a new beginning certainly, but it may be a pretty terrible one. Or it may somehow turn out okay. I only hope our nation makes it to 2018.

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy

Characterizations: been there, right on!, well written


  1. John Zussman says:

    I love the fireworks tradition and agree that it’s a great new beginning for a year. We don’t seem to have it in the Bay Area but it was a big deal in Hawaii when we lived there. We once sat directly underneath a fireworks display that a friend helped produce. It was spectacular, but the smoke turned out to be unbearable and we had to move.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Fireworks does seem to be a relatively new thing…maybe Dick Clark helped make them happen when he was impresario of midnight in Times Square. We used to go to Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate, since we bought our house 20 years ago today and there were fireworks over the harbor, but those stopped years ago (as did our trips for New Year’s Eve). This year marks 40 years of “First Night” celebration in Boston which always culminates in fireworks over the harbor (they now have a reduced budget, so will have them in a more central location where all the other activities take place…we only went once when the kids were very young). It does seem very festive. Here’s hoping 2017 isn’t as grim as we fear. Happy New Year, Suzy!

  3. Those south-of-border fireworks sound verrry exciting with your description of the possible jeopardy spicing up the scene. I also love your ubiquitous ‘get out and do it’ approach to holidays and all things worth doing. You ran down a list of adventures with such good nature and love of life. And boy, did you ever capture that whole thin-blood, brrrrr Times Square thing! And I hate getting my feet stepped on, especially when they’re cold!

  4. Ah Suzy. I feel your pain obviously about the uncertain political situation in the year to come, we must all work like mad to get out the BLUE VOTE !
    But loved your memories of that lovely trip to Ixtapa, we haven’t been to Mexico for decades when we spent a wonderful week in Mexico City, would love to go back and see the rest of the country.
    Happy, healthy new year to my new Sacramento friend and her family!

  5. John Shutkin says:

    I’m a quiet New Year’s Eve celebrant these days — though celebrating it in NYC with friends and staying on W. 44th Street makes the Times Square extravaganza somewhat unavoidable. And I still associate fireworks more with the 4th of July than NYE.

    But your delightful story may just turn me into a true believer in a firework-y New Year’s Eve. It really captures the excitement and, ideally, optimism of the occasion. And let’s just hope that the optimism for 2020, unlike the (absolutely accurate) pessimism for 2017, translates into reality. In any event, I think we are in for some (metaphorical) fireworks in the coming year!

    • Suzy says:

      Wow, I would love to stay with your friends on W. 44th Street! Then I could watch it all without freezing! And I’m happy if my story turned you into a believer re NYE fireworks. In your neck of the woods, I think they do them over Boston Harbor and also in Copley Square at midnight, and for those who can’t stay up that late there is an earlier fireworks show over Boston Common. You should check it out!

      • John Shutkin says:

        Actually, the place we stay on 44th Street (Harvard Club) is a block and a half west of Times Square and has virtually no views other than the buildings directly across the street. But the mass of humanity from Fifth Avenue west on that block on NYE makes it practically impassable. Even shouting fire.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I’m glad you shared this story again, Suzy, as I wasn’t part of the Retrospect community 3 years ago. I hope your optimism about 2020 is warranted. I wish I shared it with you. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, Laurie. The main point of the story is about the fireworks show, of course, not the optimism (or lack thereof) about the coming year. I’m looking forward to watching fireworks on Tuesday here in Sacramento, even though they won’t be as dramatic as the ones in Ixtapa.

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