We watched the clock tick quietly into the New Year with a plate of cupcakes between us. I had only recently begun to enjoy food again, after twenty-plus weeks of wretched nausea that had caused me to lose twenty-two pounds. I savored every bite of those cupcakes, every lick of the creamy, homemade frosting. And as we ate, we talked. We talked about the wild changes of the past few months and of how this new year, 1997, would be the year that we would meet our baby girl. It was inconceivable, even with the reality of my pregnant tummy between us, that we would be a family of three in just a few months. (It turned out to be even earlier than that, but we had no idea then what third trimester complications lay ahead).
I baked cupcakes again for New Year's Eve 1997, and we gave 10-month-old Bear small licks of frosting from our fingertips. There was no question but that cupcakes had become our New Year's tradition. I mean, come on, a tradition involving cupcakes? It was a no-brainer.
Our New Year's Eve has now grown to include the family of our closest friends. We order Chinese, we eat cupcakes, and after dinner the kids migrate to the family room downstairs to watch a movie or play video games. The four adults sip crazy-delightful cocktails (this year's recipe involves rum, tequila, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, YUM) and play cards or dominoes at the dining room table. There is a lot of laughter, and at some point (usually well before midnight), everyone winds up in pajamas. Adults, too.
When I first saw "When Harry Met Sally", I vowed that as an adult I would spend my New Year's Eves at a fancy-dress ball in a swanky hotel. I'm hear to tell you that I am ten thousand times happier in my own living room, in my cutest flannel pjs (oxymoron alert!), with a ridiculous rum concoction in hand, listening to four kids roaring "TEN, NINE, EIGHT..." at the TV, while they clutch sparkling grape juice in my very best crystal glasses. It's hilarious and cozy and all feels right with the world. Also I don't have to wear panty-hose or drive home. So, win-win.
Not long after midnight, the four kids begin to drop like flies - falling asleep on beds and couches around the house. This year, the grown-ups are spending the night, too, in our newly minted guest room, less for reasons of drunkenness and more along the logical lines of, "Well, you're already here and wearing pajamas, so..." We'll all go out for breakfast in the morning, and 2010 will feel well and properly ushered in.
And every year, as I eat my cupcake, I think back to that first year when it was just Tom and I and we had no clue what lay before us. I couldn't have wished for more.