I have spent a wide array of New Year's eves in all sorts of places, with different people, alone and in love. I don't recall many that were memorable in a glitzy kind of way, but I definitely remember one that was historic, another that was pretty tacky, and yet another that was just downright embarrassing, all in a memorable way.
New Year's Eve has always been a bittersweet moment for me. I don't ever recall looking forward to it. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, many years ago, it was the day that my world, as I knew it, came to an end. Little did I know then that, a little more than a year later, I would be living in another country where eventually I would embrace a different kind of life from the one I had anticipated for myself.
|The Havana Country Club in the 1950's|
On the evening of December 31, 1958, while most Cubans were celebrating the coming of the new year, Cuba's dictator Fulgencio Batista had already made plans to leave the country. Most of my parent's friends were enjoying the festivities at the Havana Country Club or the Havana Yacht Club, or at one of the famous nightclubs like the Sans Souci or the Tropicana. A few people, like my parents, had decided to play it low key and were entertaining their friends at home. One of my cousins and a group of friends of Batista's eldest son were at the Presidential Palace where a big bash was underway.
I was too young to be anywhere but old enough to know what was going on in the country. Things were ready to explode and they did. Shortly after midnight the phone started ringing at my parent's house and the party came to an abrupt end. Guests began to depart in a big hurry. It was the same everywhere, in the clubs and in the streets, everyone wanted to get back to the safety of their own homes. News of Batista's departure were fast circulating and the whole city was in chaos.
In less than 24 hours, our world went from this:
|My cousin Margarita Sanchez (second from left in white) at the Havana Country Club on New Year's Eve. Photo Courtesy of J.P. Rathbone|
And a week later to this:
If you have seen the Godfather Part II that is as close as you will ever come to experiencing the moment.
It is tough to top New Year's Eve in Havana 1958 but, throughout the years, there have been many spent in my new country. ..fifty five to be exact! Some have been memorable, many have been just another night.
One I always remember is the one in New York City, at Times Square no less, when as a college student I was stuck with my roommate's nerdy brother for the night. She took off with her boyfriend and left me alone at her parent's apartment with someone who had no idea of what the word fun meant. Desperate for something interesting to do, all he could come up with was walking to Times Square and watching the ball drop. I was too stupid or too shy to say no. The worst part was walking back from Times Square to Fifth Avenue in the bitter cold. I have to give him credit, it was tacky but it was memorable and something I will never forget, in a bad kind of way.
|Kathy Bates in About Schmmidt|
Then there was the one in the late 70's, in the days of Andy Warhol and the Studio 54 gang. My husband and I attended a small dinner party of close friends and their friends, many of whom we did not know. Beautiful people, beautiful table, great wines and plenty of Crystal. Shortly after midnight
There have been many New Year's spent skiing in Vermont or sailing in the Caribbean. Those were just delightful, especially the latter. There have been some spent sick in bed, as last year's, and others spent with family and friends at parties big and small. On the eve of the new millennium I gave a beautiful dinner for close friends, one of my best efforts and proudest moments.
All in all, good times but nothing to write a book about, although I think the top three more than make up for the rest, at least in originality. And my plans for tomorrow night? A good movie, a good dinner and a good bottle of Champagne with my daughter, the Sous Chef and the Cleanup Crew. Now that's what I call a memorable time!
I would love to hear about your most memorable New Year's Eve, good and bad. Grab a cocktail and tell me all about it!
Have a Happy New Year!
For those of you who check in for the recipes don't despair.... I go back to those in the new year!
Top photo Pamela Hanson
Photo # 2 John Paul Rathbone, The Sugar King of Havana
Next to last photo Lindaraxa
The rest Google