Over at In the Middle folks are discussing their New Year's Eve traditions. They seem to involve civilised things like watching the television.
Down here, chez nous, that's for Christmas night, when we invariably and inexplicably watch the dancesport championships and try and predict the verdict of the unseen judges, as to who can do the best samba (from positions of pure ignorance, you understand). A day or two later, it's time to start cleaning up the garden, moving the furniture, shopping for extra glasses, having delightful conversations with the girls at Flowers Flowers on St Georges Road (no website; but thoroughly recommended for unusual and startling flowers and brilliant ideas) and cooking up a storm. We have had a party every year since the millennium, with the exception of 2006 when I was coming to the exhausting end of the radiotherapy, and we just love it. We end up doing odd things, though, like cutting plastic cups in half and using them to float 50 citronella candles in the fishpond (it looked fantastic), and setting bamboo flares alight with a little too much lamp oil. We also wear out our legs and feet and sometimes get a bit exhausted by the scale of things. For Paul it was the number of mangoes he cut up; for Joel, the garden lights that kept getting in a tangle; for me, it was the last three stuffed peaches, the last three cheese profiteroles, and the last three pastry tartlets filled with smoked salmon and dill-flavoured cream cheese. But people bring such good cheer to a New Year's party that it is always a delight. They bring wine; some bring food; and some bring friends and neighbours.
It's not such a late night as it used to be. I can remember Joel sitting up with his grandmother watching television as the new millennium dawned over the Sydney Opera House: singers and musicians calling in the new year with eerie, otherworldly sounds. But it is summer here, and not far from the summer solstice, so New Year's is a lovely time to be outside and up late. And up early, if you have the energy.
We are still cleaning up, though, slowly moving the furniture back into place, soaking the tablecloths in bleach, eating up leftovers, and making sorbet from the left-over fruit...
One of the best things, too, was finding the little vegetable knife Maggie Tomlinson had given me years ago. I thought it had disappeared, but it was just in the back of the cutlery draw. When she gave it to me (a wedding? a birthday?) she pasted a small coin to the card. I didn't know this tradition: that if you give something sharp like a knife or scissors, the coin stops the blade cutting the friendship.
Oh, and if you are reading this blog and wondering why you didn't get an invite to this party, I'm very sorry: we are much better at the food than we are at the invitations. Drop me a hint and I'll do better next (i.e. this) year.
Happy New Year to all.