Monday, December 28, 2009

New Years Eve 1959

MAN IT WAS COLD THAT NIGHT! But there I stood, bare-foot on the curving red cement walk that led to a front door we never used. The night sky was clear and every star in the galaxy was out, celebrating the first time I would see a midnight come and go. My flannel pee-jays and white terry cloth robe did little to insulate me from the winter cold, and I should have gone back inside and found my slippers. But the hour was nigh and I would not miss this stroke of midnight.

My brother or some kid from up the road had brought out a flashlight, but I wanted them to leave it off. Had I wanted light, I could have stayed inside where it was warm. Finally, after enough of my caterwauling and poking, the flashlight’s dancing beam was doused and all that could be seen heavenward were those stars, framed in the foreground by the wicked looking bare winter branches of the huge and ancient sycamore trees at either end of our farmhouse.

I looked toward the stars, toward the heavens and wondered if God might be looking back. I never considered that he might have his hands full with other earthy or celestial matters so I imagined if I found just the right star, I might also see him peeking back at me from behind it. Maybe even winking.

I stood flat-footed and peered upward until my neck hurt.

I wondered. I wondered about the distance to those stars. I wondered about the passage of time and how long there’d actually been time. I wondered about what might change when midnight marked the beginning of a new day. I held my breath and waited for this particular midnight’s stroke.

In the distance, back toward town where streetlights more than likely dampened the crystalline nature of the stars, popping could be heard. Fireworks, low on the horizon. And faint huzzahs and yelps. Clyde, the fox terrier next door began to bark.

But beyond his local report and that muted commotion over in town, nothing was different. The stars still shown. The world was still dark, waiting for now-today’s inevitable sunrise. The passage through midnight meant nothing. Likewise the passing of one year into the next, for it was now January first.

Presently, I found myself back in bed, wrapped tightly blankets, hoping my feet would warm up enough that I could fall asleep. I rubbed them vigorously against one another and up and down my flanneled ankles. I awoke to the familiar smell of bacon frying in a pan in the kitchen.

THAT WAS A HALF CENTURY AGO. The 1950s, the decade of my birth, had drawn to a close. And as I watched, the 60s, with all their mystery and possibility slipped in under a starlit, dark cover. There I’d stood, an eight-year-old in flannel jammies and numb feet wondering how this new decade might be different from the last; yet confident, from all I’d learned that night, that everything would remain just about the same.

© 2010
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. hi Dave,

    I loved this, especially the last paragraph. Looking forward to reading more. I'll "bookmark you" - I guess that's not quite like "friending" you on Facebook but I think it might be even better! I'm wishing I could see the once-in-a-blue-moon-new-years-eve moon but it's looking pretty cloudy right now. We'll see at midnight. Happy New Year!


  2. Thanks, Vicki.

    Please keep checking in.

    - Dave