Tonawanda News

January 2, 2014

KEPPELER: Happy New Year from the curmudgeon

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a curmudgeon about New Year’s Eve. 

Sure, Christmas gets me all sentimental, with its traditions and its music and its food. I’m good with most other holidays — the parades and ceremonies on Memorial Day, the traditions of Easter, the fireworks of the Fourth of July. But what I’ll admit is epic over-marketing of Christmas these days, New Year’s has always seemed to me to be the most over-hyped of holidays. 

You know what I mean: Images of people dressed up in evening wear, drinking champagne. (They don’t mention how much tickets to that ritzy party cost. Or the evening wear, for that matter.) Mobs of happy people in New York City watching a giant lit-up ball drop, chanting out loud as they count down the old year, going nuts when the clock strikes midnight. (They don’t mention how long it takes to clean up. Or how far you have to be there in advance for that teeny scrap of pavement. Or how many people threw up on your shoes while you were there. Or what that mass of humanity all squeezed together smells like. Or ... oh, you get it.)

I always used to want to be at Times Square for New Year’s Eve. Or at a fancy party, drinking champagne. Now I’m relatively content drinking champagne on the couch with my husband, watching Times Square on TV. It’s less expensive. And warmer.

Maybe I got old. Or maybe it’s that the sole time we actually planned to be out and about on that evening, pre-kids, we had a lovely encounter with food poisoning. It was, perhaps, a sign.

Bah humbug.

Just another day or not, however, I can’t deny it’s a turn of the page. And it’s difficult not to get at least a little introspective.

I turn 40 in 2014. FORTY. I’m not precisely bothered by it, but it’s hard to believe. I used to think 26 sounded old when looking ahead to the distant landmark that was 2000. Forty sounded ancient. What happened? 

Sometimes it’s more difficult to believe our loved ones are aging more than ourselves. My dad will be 65 this year. I think he still has more energy that I do, so that’s mind-boggling. And I will become the parent of a 10-year-old. Mind blown.

There’s are changes I want to make, of course. Who doesn’t? Resolutions to do things better, to be a better parent, to do this thing I always wanted to do or that thing I always should have done. Anyone’s guess whether they actually get done.

A few years ago, I started what I called a “realistic bucket list.” No world tours or over-the-top life changes or not-quite-midlife-crises. Just small, realistic things I had always wanted to do, but never managed to get around to: Plant a garden. Visit New York City. Take my kids back to Walt Disney World. A handful of other things, personal and not-so-personal. 

I’m proud to say I’ve finally accomplished all of them. So now it’s time for the next list.

What’s on it? I still don’t know myself. There are worse things to do on the cusp of a new year than figure that out, though.

So, happy new year to you and yours. Hope it’s great. 

Hope no one puked on your shoes.


In my grumbles about New Year’s Eve, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that it doesn’t extend to the revitalized festivities in the Tonawandas. I was quite disappointed to write about the cancelation of the event in October, so the advent of the Rotary Club and local business owners to keep things alive was good news, indeed.

For the past two years, our New Year’s Eves have included taking the kids to the Kids Zone at Salem Church in the City of Tonawanda, when they played games, bounced, obtained balloon animals, greeted the 8:30 or 9 p.m. countdown with glee and otherwise utterly wore themselves out. I was writing about the event this year, and every other family I observed or spoke with gave me the same impression.

While I haven’t made it to the ball drop or pub crawl yet (see the small-children thing, above), I’ve heard good things. And one day I’ll make do that, too. (Hmm. Something for the list?)

It’s my kind of New Year’s. And I’m glad it’s sticking around.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.