LC Van Savage
New Years Past
Years ago I wrote a column on the following issue, but I think the statute of limitations have kicked in, so I can legally do it again.
As I write this, today is January 1, 2002, which, as you know, is the very first day of the New Year. Brand new. Unblemished. Nothing wrecking it so far. (But hey, itís early yet.)
Additionally, and perhaps of equal importance, itís my 64th birthday, and as many people will on their days of birth, líll spend some time today remembering past birthdays.
Because I was born on January 1st, there was always a party someplace to go to, and even though they werenít usually for me, I could pretend they were. I usually got sung to after everyone had finished the bellowing of Auld Lang Syne, and the midnight slobber/smooch/grope ritual. What fun!
Occasionally I will find a photo of one of those long past New Yearís Eves, (forgive me if this sounds a little smug. Truly I donít mean it to, but after all, Iím only speaking the truth,) and Iím always astounded at how little Iíve changed in five + decades. Itís just downright amazing! Of course I wear glasses now and didnít then, so perhaps my sight is not quite what it once was, but hey, after sixty-four years, eyeballs (and other things) can get a little worn down.
I also remember the gift-giving ritual back when I was a kid when relatives thought I wouldnít notice a certain Xmas AM routine theyíd always go through. People who are born close after Christmas, you see, frequently receive RRGs. (Stands for Rapidly Rewrapped Gifts.) Gifts would be opened, and if I were nearby, Iíd see the gift receiver look furtively over at me, quickly slam the lid and sneak away to perform a little covert RRG.
I will always remember the thrill of seeing, on the morning of my birthday, a large pile of gifts waiting for me on the breakfast table, although the breakfast table on New Yearís morning was usually peopled by greenish folk, a couple of them with their heads on their plates. They were not in the least cheerfully disposed to hearing my chirpy, loud and happy commentary as I thundered into the room, scraped my chair back, and crashed it into the table, jangling the silver and glasses, getting ready to tear into my loot.
I got a lot of good stuff back then. Great toys, books, clothing and junk. I also got lots of soaps on ropes, once a spiffy new set of windshield wipers, ("Remember Elsie darling, safety first!!") a medium-sized crate of softening, fuzzing grapefruit, a box of green soaps with my great auntís initials on them, a few large, oversized lacy slips, (I was seven,) a railing thing to attach to the side of a bathtub for me to grab, so I could easily climb in and out ("Donít forget about safety, dear!") and my all-time favorite, an annual huge container of small football-shaped darkly colored gel bubble bath "beads," about the size of marshmallows. I wish they had been marshmallows. I can still see those dreadful things floating about in the bathtub, their skins remaining stuck in the drain like the hides of small, colorful, dead fish. Ugh. And the smell. I get a migraine remembering. Hideous. Cloying. Dreadful.
I was way too young back then to think about people in the world who donít get gifts ever, or who donít even have birthdays or any holidays at all, so I hope Iíll be forgiven my adolescent avarice. I know about these things now and so today am incredibly grateful for what I have. But for all that lofty discourse, youíll never, ever get me to be grateful for gross, gelatinous soap hanging from a cold, wet, slimy rope.