We've skated through the social pressures of having plans on New Year's Eve for years. With infant Laddie in tow, we once attended a fellow physical therapy student's party. Six month old Lad mingled with the guests until he dozed off in his car seat and was tucked away in a spare bedroom. Since the next several years were a blur, New Year's Eve was no exception. We added more kids to our brood and typically fell asleep on the couch watching a rented flick. Eventually we hosted a sibling function where little ones were welcome. A couple of extra portable cribs, some tasty appetizers, and plenty of alcohol translated into a grand time.
Eventually there was a shift in our desire to hang with people we chose to socialize with. We hosted New Year's Eve party and invited our friends to bring their kids. Our kids were happy, and parents weren't stuck struggling to afford a pricey sitter for a night out. Then we hooked up with Coach's sister and her husband for the next several years. Once their New Year's itinerary shifted to include a De Paul basketball game, we decided to make other arrangements.
Last year we were fortunate to bump into neighbors the day before New Year's while out for breakfast for my crappy, too-close-to-Christmas birthday. While most 'run ins' with our neighbors end in frustration and force us to question why we haven't contacted our Realtor yet, these neighbors live down the street and are a blast to hang out with. The Nilleys couldn't irritate me if they drove their minivan on my lawn, spray painted my garage door, or littered my lawn with empty beer cans. The mom and I exchanged the typical 'how are you surviving the break' conversation and then she asked, 'What are you guys doing tomorrow night?' Hearing that we had no plans, she promised to let me know if they ended up having people over. Casual. Kid inclusive. Fun. Perfect. I crossed my fingers and the kids crossed everything they could think of.
Sure enough, the Nilleys ended up inviting us to their house following a kid themed bowling event at the local bowling alley. Laddie hung out at our house with a friend, and we dropped Eddie off at his friend's house. The remaining kids bowled while we chatted with other parents. The alley celebrated a 5:00 pm countdown. Yippee! Kids were pumped, but we were happy to head out to the next step of our last minute evening. The adults cracked open some adult beverages, while the youngsters entertained themselves in the basement. A hilarious card game ensued. Gut splitting, adult humor generated non stop laughter. Our well entertained kids bopped around happily, impressed that we stayed out past midnight. This last minute evening created lasting memories and exhausted participants.
It wasn't until we were shopping in Target for appetizer ingredients on the afternoon of Dec. 31st 2015 that Curly learned that we weren't repeating last year's party. There were tears. Sad that an eight year old holds such high expectations for this annual late night party day. We hadn't heard from the Nilleys. No one else had reached out to us. I blamed the size of our family. Coach blamed his not-always-terribly social demeanor. I wanted to throw an 8 year old tantrum and blame someone in Target's produce isle, but I just told Curly the truth. I was bummed too.
Laddie asked a few days after Christmas if his friends from Green Bay could stay with us. No problem. If Laddie had friends over, we needed to be present and accounted for. The days of leaving teens home alone with friends for an evening have slipped away just like an unrealistic new year's resolution does by Feb. 1st. I stocked up on groceries and reminded myself that it really didn't matter that we hadn't been invited anywhere. We couldn't go anyway.
The younger kids helped me deliver a variety of chips, dips, and pops down to the basement. I crossed my fingers that these kids from Green Bay didn't sneak anything unacceptable into my house in their overnight bags. Coach and I watched a movie with the rest of the gang in the family room. They munched on our share of the tasty treats I had whipped up, and I dozed on the couch.
Laddie and his friends raced off to another party at 11:00. Was this cool? Should they really be out driving on the roads? Did the other parents expect them to remain at our address for the duration? Were we dropping a major parent-of-a-teen-host party foul? What curfew was common for high school seniors on new years? I suppose we will learn to be experts at this eventually, because I'm guessing we will be stuck at home for New Year's Eve for the next decade plus.
I must admit, I felt better about our lame situation when I discovered that the Nilleys didn't host a crowd again this year. They rang in the New Year at their high school friend's house. New Year's resolution: next year don't bother fretting about the invite you didn't get. Just blame being strapped to teenagers for your lack of plans . . . indefinitely.