By Charles A. Deacon
As I was growing up, I can’t remember celebrating many New Year’s Eves. But I do remember two things happening on New Year's Days.
The first event was when Edith Beal and Alice Belcher, distant cousins, joined us for dinner at noon. Edith, a widow, did the cooking for the two of them. She was short and very heavy. Alice, tall and thin, served as the librarian at the local library. Fortunately, they lived together, because Alice didn’t know how to cook. Back then I would have called her a spinster.
They could not drive, so my mother would drive for a half an hour to pick them up. Of course, my mother had already started the dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash and rolls. Dessert was apple pie with whipped cream. My sisters set the table with the good china and helped in the kitchen, while mom was gone.
The kitchen could not accommodate too many people. My father and I stayed out of the way. When the turkey came out of the oven, I liked to pick at it. Also, licking the bowl after the whipped cream was made and used was a pleasure.
When the cousins arrived at our house, we welcomed them with “Happy New Year.” Then they were invited to come and sit down until dinner was ready. At this point we held our breath to see where Edith would sit down. We had one chair that had a broken leg which we had repaired and we hoped that it hold up to the weight of Edith. That was the chair she decided to sit in. At first, we heard a creek. At this point, I think my father was ready to call the fire department for help. The chair stayed together during their visit.
Conversation at the dinner table was about what the children got for Christmas, and how school was going. Of course, Edith and Alice talked about how much they enjoyed the meal.
After some small talk followed dinner, my mother took the cousins home before it got too dark. In the meantime, my sisters cleared the table and stacked the dishes for washing.
The second event that happened on New Year’s Day was my father would start a remodeling project. During the week before, he would discuss his project so we would know what to expect. Once the company had left, he would get the tools out he needed to start.
The front hall had a shallow closet. Behind the back wall was the landing of the stairs. By removing the closet wall, he could have the stairs come straight down. So, he started by breaking the plaster in the closet. The next day dad contacted his favorite carpenter.
Enlarging the kitchen became the biggest job. This entailed getting rid of the pantry and moving the kitchen sink. I hated to see the pantry disappear because that was where I used to go to sit on a stool to sulk. The stool was named “the sulking stool.” The project involved taking up several pieces of flooring in my upstairs bedroom. This meant that I had to remember step over the hole every day for about a week.
Over the years, New Year’s Day has changed with the introduction of television, computers, iPods and smartphones. Also, our cousins have died and the family has moved to other areas.
We now watch the dropping of the ball on New Year’s Eve, and the Rose Bowl parade on New Year’s Day. I have wonderful memories of past New Years!
The Rev. Charles A. Deacon has warm memories of past New Year's Eves.