As we’re all trying to wind down from the hype of the holidays and transition ourselves back into our normally scheduled routines, I find myself reminiscing about past celebrations I’ve spent ringing in the New Year.
There have been times when I have celebrated alone and I wasn’t even mad about it. Like this year, for example. I had a handful of invites to places I could have gone, but I found comfort in the warmth and safety of my own home. I didn’t have to dress up, brave the cold and worry about other drivers on the road once the clock struck 12.
I recall one New Year’s party where everyone had a significant other to smooch at the stroke of midnight and there I stood clenching a bowl of soon-to-be devoured snacks to accompany me into the next 365 days that laid ahead. These are the joys you face when you’re invited to festivities with friends who are married and they kindly suggest you bring a “plus one” knowing full well you’re happier flying solo.
I’ve also had some pretty great memories where I haven’t even been in the country when the calendar changed to another year. A few Decembers back, I decided to end the year in style by planning a trip to London and Paris with my sister and mother. We stayed in London for a few days, making a pit-stop at Stonehenge, Oxford University and Windsor Castle. Once our British sensory overload took over, it was already time for our 2 hour train ride on the Eurostar. This incredible train reaches 186 miles per hour and spends 20 minutes in the Chunnel, an underwater tunnel that passes through the English Channel connecting France with England. When we reached the station, the billowing echoes of a beautiful accent announcing departures and arrivals filled our ears. We knew we were in France because we couldn’t understand a thing that we were hearing. Once we surpassed the confusion in making our connection, we were on our way to our hotel where we would spend the next three days in the “City of Lights.” As we stepped off the metro in Paris, I immediately found my first souvenir. But once he finished helping me with directions, he rode off on his bike and was never to be seen again.
“Au revoir, mon amour!” My inner monologue cried. That means, “goodbye my love,” for you non-French folk.
After I got past the fact that I had just lost this gorgeous Frenchman and potential love of my life, I lead my family up the street to our hotel. As we turned around to read the map and reassure us he had pointed us in the right direction, there stood this magnificent structure of iron and beauty; the Eiffel Tower. I will never grow tired of seeing that iconic landmark no matter how many times I visit.
The neighborhood of our hotel was so quant and picturesque, lined with cobblestone roads and cafes. We discovered this adorable bakery across the street called, “La Passion du Bon Pain.” The owner was this feisty little Frenchwoman who clearly hated my attempt at trying to order in French, but served the most delectable pastries I have ever had in my life. The next few days were spent admiring the Mona Lisa and getting lost in the Louvre, climbing the bell tower of the Notre Dame Cathedral, and shopping at the Christmas markets along the Champs-Elysees.
We ended up celebrating the New Year with a bottle of champagne, and hundreds of other spectators over the River Seine while overlooking the illuminated facade of the Eiffel Tower. As the clock struck midnight, it began to glisten like a massive diamond. We popped our bottle of champagne and toasted to a happy New Year, while the crowd of natives shouted, “Bonne Annee!” We joined in and found ourselves greeting every stranger on the street with a, “Bonne Annee!” We had finally felt like locals even for just a moment. It was a beautiful night and an incredible moment to share with my mother and sister.
I will never forget my New Year in Paris and the bond it brought to us. No matter where you are, love and beauty are all around you if you allow yourself to see. Heading into another year, I am grateful for the moments that are special enough to make memories, the loved ones I hold dear, and the incredible opportunities the future holds. As the great Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”